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ASML's EUVL alpha tool shipments slip to Q2

Posted: 18 Oct 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:asml? lithography? euvl? alpha extreme ultraviolet lithography?

European lithography equipment vendor ASML Holdings NV now expects to ship its two alpha extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) tools in the second quarter of 2006, the company said. This is a change from previous expectations that the tools would ship in the first quarter.

The two alpha tools are destined for the Albany campus in New York State and for IMEC vzw (Leuven, Belgium), an independent research organization. Both are expected to have optical sources from Philips Extreme UV, a joint venture between Philips Lighting and the Fraunhofer Institute of Laser Technology (ILT) and a six-lens optical system developed by Carl Zeiss SMT AG (Oberkochen, Germany). Intel Corp., the world's leading chip maker, has been a major advocate of the need to research EUV lithography, which requires a move to 13.5nm wavelength radiation, so that the company could use the technology at the 32nm manufacturing node in about 2009. Back in April 2005 Paolo Gargini, Intel's director of technology strategy and chairman of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors had predicted first quarter 2006 installations for ASML's two alpha tools. At the same time he confirmed that Intel would make use of the EUVL too due to be installed at IMEC.

Prior to that, in February 2004, ASML was saying it would have an alpha tool ready in the fourth quarter of 2005. Although capable of 32nm lines and spaces, coinciding with the demands of the 32nm manufacturing process node, the alpha tools are expected to be used for prototype 45nm chips as part of process development. The tools will be capable of processing more than 10 wafers per hour, according to a presentation from Martin van den Brink, executive vice president of technology and marketing of ASML (Veldhoven, The Netherlands), prepared for financial analysts to receive on Sept. 20.

While this throughput is adequate for research purposes it is a long way short of the 80 to 100 wafers per hour that is the typical target for a production lithography machine, and which for EUVL is expected to require a light source to generate about 115-watts at the intermediate focus.

The most likely reason for this shortfall is the optical source. Work continues to increase the output power of optical sources and from levels of 10 to 15-watts a few years ago Philips Extreme has reportedly reported on a tin-plasma discharge source that generates 40-watts of EUV power. The 1O wafers per hour benchmark quoted by van den Brink suggests ASML is still planning to use the relatively mature 15-watt source, in the alpha tools.

Xtreme Technologies GmbH, a joint venture formed between Lambda Physik in Goettingen, Germany and Jenoptik in Jena, Germany and now owned by Ushio Corp. and Jenoptik, is also working on EUV sources based on Xenon discharge and tin-plasma sources. However, tin vapor has the drawback of condensing on the collector optics and contaminating them, requiring frequent cleaning cycles. While this may be acceptable in a research tool it is not considered acceptable in a production tool, which is expected to operate for at least one year, with source required for 3000 hours or 100 billion pulses. Philips Extreme is experimenting with the use of a buffer gas between the source and the optics that sweeps the tin vapor onto a foil trap.

However one difference between the two systems is likely to be in the quality of the lens systems and the amount of light wasted in it. While Albany is set to get the first EUV lithography alpha machine IMEC is expecting its machine will have 20 percent less "flare" due lessons learned by Carl Zeiss SMT during the lens polishing process.

- Peter Clarke

EE Times

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