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Sematech launches nanoimprint litho program

Posted: 29 Feb 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:nanoimprint lithography? optical lithography? 32nm node?

Sematech has started a development program in nanoimprint lithography, a move that's expected to be a major boost in this arena.

As part of the plan, the consortium has purchased new tool technology from Molecular Imprints Inc (MII). The latter's new Imprio 300 line of nanoimprint lithography systems will be delivered to Sematech by mid-2008.

The goal of is to demonstrate the feasibility of MII's step and flash imprint lithography (S-FIL) technology for IC production and related applications at the 32nm node and beyond. The S-FIL technology is built on the existing optical lithography infrastructure, using commercially available photomasks, exposure sources and resists.

The key is also to "develop the infrastructure" for the promising technology, said Ben Eynon, associate director of lithography for Sematech. This includes the development of the templates and other technologies, he said. On assignment from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, Eynon will soon assume the role of director of lithography at Sematech.

Nanoimprint is one of several next-generation lithography technologies being explored by Sematech. The organization is also looking into EUV, high-index immersion and other lithography technologies.

Nanoimprint benefits
For years, nanoimprint has been considered a niche technology. It is being used for the development of ICs, HDDs, LEDs and other products. Nanoimprint does not use expensive optics. Rather, it employs a simple stamping or hot embossing process to generate features on a device.

Nanoimprint can pattern devices at feature sizes below 20nm at a fraction of the cost of conventional optical lithography. While 193nm immersion scanners sell for as much as $40 million each, a nanoimprint tool may sell for up to $10 million, and most tools in the category sell for far less than that.

But nanoimprint has its share of drawbacks that have kept the technology from going mainstream, namely overlay and throughput. Still, MII and its rivals have seen keen interested in various markets, including semiconductors. Last year, Toshiba Corp. installed one of MII's tools for the development of NAND flash at the 22nm node.

Over time, MII believes that nanoimprint lithography will move into mainstream production fabs. For example, the technology is ripe for mix-and-match applications with 193nm optical lithography in fabs, said John Doering, VP of marketing and business development at MII.

At the SPIE Advanced Lithography conference, MII rolled out the Imprio 300. Compared to MII's previous-generation Imprio 250 system, throughput on the Imprio 300 has been increased by 250 percent. The tool has a 26- by 33mm field size and overlay performance has been improved with the ability to provide sub-10nm overlay in test devices. The system has also been integrated with a fully-automated, Foup-based wafer handling and template loading system.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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