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IBM pushes for immersion at 22nm

Posted: 27 Feb 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:lithography? extreme ultraviolet? immersion lithography? dry lithography? 193nm?

IBM Corp. outlined last week its lithography roadmap, saying that it would extend 193nm immersion lithography down to the 22nm node for logic production. With the announcement, the company's plans for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography could get pushed out again, as the technology is not expected to be ready for the early development work at the 22nm node for logic, according to IBM's lithography guru.

The disclosure could be a bad sign for the EUV community, which has been hoping to insert the next-generation lithography technology at the 32nm node in the 2009 time frame. It also raises more questions about the readinessor viabilityof EUV, which has been hampered by lack of suitable power sources, photoresists and other critical pieces of the puzzle. Plus, if or when an EUV tool gets shipped, the price tag could run from $40- to $60 million per copy.

The industry hopes EUV will make it into production sooner than later, but the technology must reach certain milestones. "I think the next 9 to 12 months are very critical to achieve this," said George Gomba, IBM distinguished engineer and director of lithography technology development at the company.

Like most leading-edge chipmakers, IBM has been exploring EUV, immersion, direct-write and other technologies in the next-generation lithography (NGL) front. Within its 300mm production fab in East Fishkill, N.Y., the company has been using 193nm optical scanners from ASML Holding NV. It is widely believed that IBM will continue to work with the Dutch company going forward. IBM did not comment on its vendors.

IBM is using "dry" 193nm immersion lithography tools for the production of logic chips at the 65nm node. In its current roadmap, the company will use 193nm immersion lithography for logic production at the 45nm node (65nm half-pitch), Gomba said. At the node, IBM will use a 193nm immersion scanner with a numerical aperture of 1.2, which is reportedly supplied by ASML.

The company is expected to move into 45nm production by "year-end 2007," he said. "Basically, immersion is ready for prime time in production in 2007," he declared in a phone interview.

Following the 45nm node, IBM will extend 193nm immersion down to the 32nm node (45nm half-pitch) for logic, he said. At the node, the company is exploring both single- and double-patterning techniques, with a scanner equipped with a 1.35 NA lens.

Surprisingly, the company claims it will push immersion down to the 22nm node for logic, which is due in the 2011 time frame. "I believe [193nm immersion] will be the only solution that meets the two-year cycle and requirements at 22nm," he said.

The current limit for 193nm immersion, with a refractive index of 1.44, is around the production of devices at 40nm, according to experts. To go beyond this barrier, IBM is expected to use resolution enhancement techniques and OPC, in addition to an advanced 193nm immersion scanner with double-patterning technology. "We are exploring different types of double-patterning techniques," Gomba said.

What about EUV? IBM believes that EUV "will not be ready for the early development work" at 22nm, Gomba said. IBM hopes that EUV would be ready to "intersect" the production phases of the 22nm node for logic, but the technology must reach certain milestones by the 2009 time frame.

So far, ASML has shipped two rather early "demo" EUV tools, including one to IMEC and another to Albany Nanotech. The Dutch company is expected to ship a "pre-production" model to Samsung and possibly Intel Corp. Nikon Corp. and Canon Inc. are also working on EUV.

The IBM lithography guru, meanwhile, is also pessimistic about nano-imprint and maskless lithography for production at these advanced nodes. "We don't think it will be ready," he said.

Other chipmakers are also expected to emulate IBM's lithography roadmap. In fact, IBM is working with several partners on the lithography front. In 2005, IBM, Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Infineon Technologies AG, and Micron Technology Inc. joined forces with ASML and KLA-Tencor Corp. in a $600 million seven-year lithography consortium, dubbed INVENT.

Another partner, silicon foundry provider Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Pte Ltd, is also expected to emulate IBM's strategy. Other foundries, including UMC and TSMC, are expected to insert immersion at the 45nm node or sooner.

Intel is the exception to the rule. Last year, Intel revealed that it would not use immersion lithography to characterize its chips at the 45nm node. Instead, Intel plans to extend its existing and conventional 193nm wavelength "dry" scanners for use in processing the critical layers at the 45nm node.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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