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EUV still hounded by power source issues

Posted: 04 Mar 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:EUV lithography? power source? NXE:3100?

Keynote speakers at the SPIE Advanced Lithography conference in San Jose, California have admitted that while extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography is making headway, the technology's power source continues to lag behind.

As reported, ASML Holding NV has shipped the world's first ''pre-production'' EUV lithography tool to a customer, reportedly Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, sources said. That tool from ASMLNXE:3100uses a light source from Cymer Inc.

It's unclear if EUV is ready for prime time, as the power source and other technologies remain behind schedule. "Our checks suggest throughput at the first (EUV) tool installation at Samsung by ASML is currently only 8-10 wafers per hour, well below the breakeven level relative to double patterning of about 50 wafers per hour," said C. J. Muse, an analyst with Barclays Capital, in a new report.

One vendor even said that EUV is now measured by wafers per daya disappointing measurement at best. EUV is a next-generation lithography technology that was supposed to be inserted for production at the 65nm node. But the technology has been delayed, due to the lack of power sources, defect-free masks, resists and metrology infrastructure.

Still, leading-edge chipmakers are banking on EUV for production fabs, in an effort to avoid the dreaded and costly double-patterning era for optical lithography. But chipmakers have no choice but to go to double-patterning. Experts believe that EUV is now targeted for production at the 16nm nodeor later.

Belgian research institute IMEC on Monday announced it has installed an NXE:3100 pre-production EUV machine from ASML at its Leuven facility.

"Tremendous progress has been made" on EUV, said Luc Van den hove, president and CEO of IMEC, during a keynote at SPIE, but the big challenge is to "demonstrate production readiness."

With the NXE:3100, researchers at IMEC have demonstrated the ability to print 24nm lines and 26nm holes, he said. The tool was able to print 20nm lines and space using dipole illumination techniques, he said.

Improvements have been made in resists, but there are still issues with power sources. "We are behind schedule in power increases," Van de hove said.

EUV has seen a factor of 20 in terms of improvement in productivity. "We need a factor of 10 in improvement by the end of the year," he said.

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