The creation of the production facility follows on from the announcement in 2012 that Russia's Rusnano would invest about €40 million (about $50 million) in Mapper. Rusnano is a government owned investment fund aimed at commercializing developments in nanotechnology and one condition of the Mapper investment was that part of the research and manufacturing then in Delft would move to Moscow.
The MEMS factory is located in Technopolis in Moscow and will have the capacity to produce enough lens elements for 20 Mapper lithography machines per year, according Rusnano. Mapper has invested 1 billion rubles (about $30 million) in creating the wafer fab.
It is intended to produce three types of electronic optics at the Moscow plant. The simplest of them are spacers, which are used to separate electronic optical elements. Next in order of complexity are silicon electronic lenses for focusing and collimation of electron beams. They will come into production by the end of 2014. Production of the most complex elements, containing electronics for control electrodes, is scheduled to begin by the end of 2015.
Inside Mapper's Moscow MEMS wafer fab. Source: Rusnano.
Mapper's lithography system works using an e-beam split into multiple sub-beams that are passed through a MEMS-based projection system to cast a digital image on to photoresist. E-beams have been used before but a single e-beam takes an impractically long time to write a whole die and is the main reason e-beam lithography has been used mainly for R&D to date. However, Mapper's system can be expanded to thousands of beams and the company has worked closely with CEA-Leti (Grenoble, France) and foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (Hsinchu, Taiwan).
Mapper was founded as a spin off from Delft University of Technology in 2000 to develop a multiple electron beam maskless lithography system.
Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) has been the favored next-generation lithography approach with billions of dollars of backing going from leading chip companies to ASML Holdings NV (Veldhoven, The Netherlands) however, the technology continues to be elusive.
E-beam lithography may yet replace or be complementary to EUV lithography. Even if maskless e-beam does not replace EUV lithography could have a role to play in mask preparation for EUV or for low volume chip production that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive due to mask costs.
This article originally appeared on EE Times Europe.