LONDON – French research institute CEA-Leti has said that 22-nm lines and spaces have been created using direct-write e-beam lithography technology and that the demonstrated resolution meets the requirements for both 14- and 10-nm logic processing nodes.
In addition Mapper Lithography BV (Delft, The Netherlands), the developer of the multibeam prototype lithography machine in use at CEA-Leti (Grenoble, France) and CEA-Leti have announced the extension of a collaborative R&D program called Imagine for an additional three years. This will include the installation of the first Matrix pre-production tools at CEA-Leti.
Mapper's pre-alpha platform has been installed in CEA-Leti's cleanroom since mid-2009. Both STMicroelectronics and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. were participants in the original Imagine program and 50 representatives from 13 companies participated in an operational review of the research conducted in January 2012.
ST and TSMC plus Mapper, Nissan Chemical, TOK, Dow, JSR Micro, Synopsys, Mentor Graphics, Sokudo, Tokyo Electron and Aselta are participating in the project with the goal of offering maskless lithography in a commercial manufacturing environment.
"In 2012 Mapper will complete its Matrix pre-production platform with initially a 1 wafer per hour throughput capability and scalable to 10 wafers per hour," said Bert Jan Kampherbeek, CEO of Mapper, in a statement issued by CEA-Leti.
Laurent Malier, CEA-Leti CEO, said: "By continuing the Imagine program for another three years, we will continue to answer to the increasing interest showed by industry."
I think that are many companies that would use a 10 wafer per hour direct write ebeam tool. Mask costs near leading edge nodes are quite expensive - as are any alternative lithography approaches. And it's likely that throughput would be even higher at higher design nodes. For small volumes and rapid prototyping it would be valuable. And of course some people would be interested in it as a faster mask writing tool.
It depends on the cost of the machine. If it's maskless and does not require expensive EUV sources and mirrors, the machine could be potentially less expensive. In that case you just buy more machines to reach the production rate you want.
Electron microscopes have been converted to e-beam litho at a cost of about $100k that produce 20nm line widths. These can be used for very limited production. The new vector scan (shaped beams) are very expensive (I think they're over $6kk per machine), which makes it questionable whether it's practical to simply add more machines to make up for the lack of processing speed.
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