BRUSSELS — The latest extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography systems are making about 28 wafers/hour or 100 wafers/day with a 40 W light source in pilot tests. The progress is significant but falls far short of a production target of up to 200 wafers/hour for the systems upon which ride many of the hopes of the semiconductor industry.
ASML chief technology officer Martin Van den Brink reported the results achieved over the last three months, raising hopes for a handful of EUV proponents at the annual Imec Technology Forum here. The systems could be available as early as 2016 in time for the 10 nm node, Van den Brink said, but it's a nail biter at best, given the many challenges ahead.
EUV aims to help chipmakers avoid the costly need to pattern wafers three or four times with existing immersion systems to get the 10 nm features they will need in about two years. The low throughput due to the relatively weak light source is the biggest of several problems for EUV.
"Over time I am convinced we will get to 100-200 wafers/hour with higher numerical aperature -- that will give us another 10 years" of new chipmaking capabilities, Van den Brink said.
Initially, ASML hopes to stabilize the systems for commercial production at about 85 wafers/hour for work at 10 or 7 nm nodes. Ultimately it hopes to deliver systems producing 100 to 200 wafers/hour with a higher numerical aperature, better resists, and an improved light source, slashing costs as much as sixfold for the 5 nm node.
ASML believes its current EUV system will get to 35 wafers/hour soon.
Despite the optimism, Van den Brink also presented ASML's work on future immersion tools that could handle work from 10 nm to 5 nm nodes. If such tools are used at 10 nm, the amount of multi-patterning they require could push chipmakers far off the curve of Moore's Law, said Kurt Ronse, Imec's lithography expert.
Immersion tools may require 18 masks at 10 nm and 27 masks at 7 nm, driving up costs 35% and 21% or more, respectively, an "unsustainable" level, Ronse said in a talk here. By contrast, a hybrid process would use eight immersion and six EUV masks, keeping cost increases for the 7 nm node to about 7%, he said.
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