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ASML debuts hyper NA immersion

Posted: 16 Aug 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:asml holding nv? hyper numerical aperture machine? chip production? immersion lithography?

Responding to Nikon Corp.'s recent move in immersion lithography, ASML Holding NV has rolled out its first hyper numerical aperture (NA) machine for volume chip production, the XT1700ia 193nm immersion tool with a hyper NA of 1.20at the Semicon West trade show.

The XT1700i from the Dutch-based lithography giant is based on the company's Twinscan dual-stage platform. The lens within the tool will make use of a uni-axial catadioptric design, which means that it will use three to four mirrors along with refractive lenses, sources said.

The system will ship in Q2 or Q3 of 2006, sources said.

ASML's move follows Nikon's entry into the hyper NA immersion market. Seeking to take the technical lead in lithography, Nikon rolled out what the company claimed was the world's first hyper NA immersion system for volume chip production.

The NSR-S609B from Nikon is a 193nm immersion, "tandem-stage" lithography scanner with a hyper NA of 1.07. Aimed for chip production at 55nm and development at 45nm, the machine can process 130 or more wafers per hourwith no sign of immersion-specific defects, Nikon claimed.

Japan's Canon Inc. is also developing a dual-stage, immersion lithography tool, but the machine is not expected to hit the market until 2006.

Both ASML and Nikon have also separately announced immersion tools for R&D purposes, with an NA below 1.0. The hyper NA tools are geared for actual chip production at the 45nm node or sooner.

Many leading-edge chipmakers are banking on immersion lithography for IC production at the 45nm node and perhaps beyond. Still others with more aggressive road maps hope to insert tools at the 65nm node.

"I think immersion is very close to being ready," according to one analyst. "I'm sure there will be some early product issues, but they'll be worked out."

ASML itself has shipped several immersion tools with an NA below 1.0 to a number of customers, including Albany Nanotech, TSMC and others. Intel Corp. is expected to obtain tools from both ASML and Nikon.

With its hyper NA machine, ASML is still working on several aspects of the design. To reduce flare, ASML's lens design will require a 90W power source from Cymer Inc.

ASML is reportedly also tweaking the nozzle design in an effort to reduce the microbubble issues in chip production, sources said. "If they don't resolve that soon, then their system will not be ready for prime time," according to the source.

- Mark LaPedus

EE Times

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