LONDON – Rusnano, the $10-billion nanotechnology investment arm of the Russian state, has led a round of financing into electron beam lithography equipment company Mapper Lithgraphy BV (Delft, The Netherlands). As part of the deal Rusnano's investment is set to be used to establish a manufacturing site in Russia for lens components for Mapper.
Rusnano is providing half of a funding round worth 80 million euro (about $100 million) that includes current shareholders, new investors and the Dutch government through innovation credits from AgentschapNL, Mapper said. The money is set to be used to build and ship several Matrix electron-beam lithography systems and create the manufacturing infrastructure capable of delivering at least 20 machines per year.
Mapper is a pioneer of a multi-beam form of e-beam lithography in which a direct-write e-beam is used to characterize chip resist and for which no mask is required. The use of a single e-beam requires 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 has worked closely with leading foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (Hsinchu, Taiwan) and CEA-Leti (Grenoble, France) to develop the Matrix system, which can go up to 13,000 beams.
For now extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography remains the favored approach to high volume manufacture of chips with minimum geometries below 20-nm but e-beam lithography may yet have a role to play in mask preparation for EUV lithography. Multibeam e-beam maskless lithography is also being touted for low-volume production runs which would otherwise be dominated by mask costs. The e-beam technology combines high resolution and high productivity – up to 100 wafers per hour – with a lower cost in production, Mapper claims.
Rusnano will contribute 40 million euro (about $50 million). The remainder coming from current shareholders like ADP Industries, the investment vehicle of Arthur Del Prado, investment firm Parcom Capital, Hoving and Partners along with Dutch high-end technology suppliers Technolution and Demcon and innovation credits from AgentschapNL.
Rusnano has been investing in European and U.S. semiconductor and electronics startups in recent years and committed over a billion dollars in the last two years. Besides Mapper, Rusnano's investments include: magnetic RAM chip company Crocus Technologies Inc., organic backplane display company Plastic Logic Ltd., MEMS-based timing chip company SiTime Inc. and Wi-Fi chip company Quantenna.