Feb 28 2013
While the main manufacturing flows are still focusing on optical lithography, eBeam and EUV are still making progress on advancements waiting for their chance in the main flow of the fab line.
EUV is still working on power and throughput. A challenge for the industry is the dual sided consolidation for the advanced node development. As AMSL completed its acquisition (shareholder approval) of Cymer earlier this month, this leaves only a few companies such as Xtreme Technologies and Gigaphoton as the independent developers/suppliers of EUV light sources to the industry. With the loss of one (1) of the large scanner companies from the world wide list of under 5 scanner manufacturers, there are not a lot target users of the technology once it is developed. Additionally, the list of scanner companies is being squeezed by a end fabrication facilities list of only about a half-dozen companies that will be moving to the new sub 10nm processes. The new forecast for EUV is applicability at the sub 10nm (target 7nm) node.
With only a couple of end customers, and very few OEMs, the cost and pace of technology development for the EUV sources at high power are at risk. This year Gigaphoton showed a 20W net power output over a 168hr operating shift for their new source. This output is being targeted for use with 300mm and 450mm flows. This dual track brings additional dilution to the development efforts. A new challenge facing the technology is the 13.5nm light sources may not appear until the processes are already sub-wavelength, further impacting the wafer throughput, due to the need to introduce sub-wavelength imaging solutions rather than just “print and go” flows. These sub-wavelength solutions include working with Directed Self Assembly (DSA), OPC and multi-patterning similarly to current DUV litho flows.
Similar to EUV, ebeam is looking for its place in the flow. In an update and discussion with Aki Fujimura if D2S and the eBeam Intitative, the fine geometry writing tool is being used for making optical masks for traditional lithography, creating masks for nano-imprint masters and direct write on wafers. The last area is facing the challenge of creating a high throughput technology in a time frame that will still allows enough fabrication customers at the advance nodes to justify the development by buying the machines. Companies like MultiBeam and IMS are working on high throughput writing tools with hundreds of beams at once allowing for reduced writing times and heating of both 300mm and 450mm wafers.
Unlike the EUV light source developers, the ebeam marketplace has a large stable target base of mask manufacturing in addition to the wafer clients. The masks writing comprises the majority of ebeam activities in industry. The rise of the nano-imprint technology, not only for semiconductors, but the high volume disk drive industry and other precision industries, allows for a growth market independent of the migration to sub 20nm semiconductor process flows.
The masking industry supply chain is facing a faster challenge that just imaging the geometries. This high profile challenge is felt only by the scanner and resist companies. The rest of the supply chain is challenged by compression of the industry which may result in just 1 or 2 technologies & suppliers being adopted and no one to fund the next generation development.