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Japanese light source providers part ways

Posted: 28 Apr 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:joint venture agreement? EUV light sources? laser-produced plasma? discharge-produced plasma?

Komatsu Ltd and Ushio Inc. have announced the dissolution of their joint venture agreement on light source provider Gigaphoton Inc.

Komatsu will purchase the remaining 50 percent shares from Ushio. As a result, Gigaphoton will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Komatsu.

In August 2000, Ushio and Komatsu established Gigaphoton as a 50-50 joint-venture company to develop, manufacture, sell and service excimer laser light sources for lithography tools.

Cymer, Gigaphoton, Ushio and others are developing extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light sources for next-generation lithography tools. Gigaphoton is working on the laser-produced plasma (LPP) method, while Ushio is working on the discharge-produced plasma (DPP).

Now, Gigaphoton and Ushio will be competing in the EUV source market. Cymer is pushing the LPP method in which plasma is produced by collecting powerful laser beams on a specified material. DPP, on the other hand, is a method in which plasma is produced by charging large-current pulses between the electrodes.

Last year, Japan's Ushio acquired Royal Philips Electronics' EUV light source business. Philips has transferred the EUV unit to the Japanese company's EUV unit, dubbed Xtreme Technologies GmbH. Xtreme has an existing R&D activity for EUV light sources, and has been a partner with Philips since 2008 in the development of next-generation semiconductor-based EUV light sources.

Ushio took a 50 percent equity stake in Xtreme in 2005, and in 2008 commenced joint research with Philips, which was also active with EUV light sources. In the same year, Ushio made Xtreme a 100 percent subsidiary.

As reported, EUV, the leading NGL candidate for chipmakers, remains dogged by delays with its power sources, resists and the critical mask and metrology infrastructure. As a result, EUV continues to slip and is in jeopardy of missing another insertion point, this time the early stages of the 1x-nm device nodes.

- Mark LaPedus
??EE Times

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