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ASML pumps up EUV initiative with Cymer purchase

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:deep ultraviolet? extreme ultraviolet lithography? immersion multiple patterning?

Photolithography systems supplier ASML Holding has announced that it will buy out deep ultraviolet light source provider Cymer to accelerate the Dutch firm's development of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. The acquisition is said to be worth around $2.6 billion is cash and stock.

U.S.-based Cymer is a longtime supplier of lithography light sources to ASML and other lithography tool vendors. The company has for years been trying to develop a light source powerful and stable enough to support volume production with EUV lithography, which was to have been in use by now but has been pushed back several times.

ASML and Cymer have been working closely together for over a year to improve the power and stability of Cymer's EUV lithography source. ASML has also been working closely with competing source providers Ushio and Gigaphoton.

"We expect the merger to make EUV technology development significantly more efficient and simplify the supply chain and integration flow of the EUV modules," said Eric Meurice, ASML's president and CEO, in a statement.

The lack of an adequate power source has left the throughput of EUV lithography systems, which the IC industry is counting on for building chips at the 10-nm node and beyond, well below what is required for economical volume manufacturing. ASML said its pre-production EUV tools now have throughput of up to seven wafers per hour. Chip makers would like throughput of 100 to 150 wafers per hour. ASML's target is 69 wafers per hour at 105 watts for production in 2014.

With the deal, ASML will also acquire Cymer's deep ultraviolet lithography (DUV) business. DUV is expected to remain a significant and growing engine of sales and profit and will be well positioned to support and balance customer needs for EUV and immersion multiple patterning, ASML said.

ASML said it would manage Cymer's commercial operations as an independent division based in the U.S. The company said it would continue to deliver and service DUV and EUV sources for all customers, including competitors, on an arm's length basis.

ASML scanners will continue to interface with light sources from all manufacturers, ASML said.

EUV update
The transaction, which was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of ASML and Cymer, would entitle each Cymer shareholder to receive $20 in cash and a fixed ratio of 1.1502 ASML ordinary shares for each Cymer share, ASML said. The total price reflects a hefty premium over Cymer's stock price for the past 90 days, ASML said.

"We are very encouraged that ASML's resources will enable the combined company to continue to develop and successfully commercialise EUV on an accelerated time frame," said Bob Akins, Cymer chairman and CEO. "The success of EUV is critical to the semiconductor industry, and we view this merger as very attractive for our shareholders, customers and employees as well as our industry."

ASML currently has six pre-production NXE:3100 EUV systems in the field. The systems are, capable of resolution performance compatible with the 22-nm node in single patterning mode, and have now exposed more than 23,000 wafers at customer sites with good overlay and imaging performance, the company said.

ASML's NXE:3300B, the successor to NXE:3100 is capable of resolution performance compatible with the 14-nm node in single patterning mode, according to ASML. This system has already shown overlay down to 1.3 nm and imaging down to 16 nm in a full-field single exposure using new illumination technology, the company said. Progress continues on improving the productivity of the EUV systems currently limited by the light source, ASML said.

Cymer's EUV light sources have for some time been exposing wafers at up to 11 watts source power at customer facilities, resulting in NXE:3100 productivity of up to 7 wafers per hour, ASML said. ASML and Cymer jointly made significant progress during the summer and have now proven in laboratories a sustained 30-Watt source exposure power potential, which would enable the NXE:3300B to expose 18 wafers per hour, the company said.

- Dylan McGrath
??EE Times

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