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Extreme UV Lightsource for Nanoscale Lithography

Organization:University of Washington, WA, US
I.P. Brief:Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a novel technique to produce a stable, high power gas discharge plasma serve as a 13.5 nm light source for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography.
Summary of I.P.:Existing methods for creating an EUV light source use a laser-produced plasma (LPP), which generates optics-fouling debris, and gas discharge plasma (GDP), which has neither the pulse duration nor the power to be useful for nanoscale lithography. The new UW technique uses sheared axial flow of an injected gas to stabilize the plasma, resulting in power intensity 300 times that of either LPP or GDP, and a 40 msec pulse time, compared to nanoseconds for the other two techniques. As well, due to its simplicity, the system is envisioned to cost 1/10 of the selling price of LPP and GDP sources. Development of a high power, stable EUV light source has been identified as one of the key challenges of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS). This technology will allow fabrication of minimum feature sizes at the 32 nm, 22 nm and 15 nm nodes as identified by the ITRS. Semiconductor lithography process equipment manufacturers will be the buyers of this technology, and other potential purchasers will be industrial, academic and government research labs.
Patent:U.S. Patent Application No. 11/252,021, filed 10/17/05
Keywords:EUV lithography, Z-pinch, nanoscale fabrication
Primary Industry:Electronics
Specific Market:Semiconductor wafer fabrication
Market Size:Semiconductor devices: $250 B Semiconductor equipment: $51 B Semiconductor lithography equipment: $4.3 B
State of the Art:Current lithography systems can produce features at the 65 nm node, and Intel has announced it is now producing features at the 45 nm node, but this is at the lower limit of conventional light sources. To keep pace with Moore\'s Law, a shorter wavelength source is needed.
Competition:193 nm immersion lithography uses a >1.00 index of refraction fluid to \'bend\' the light to create smaller features, but is unproven. Nanoimprint lithography uses a nanoscale rubber stamp to print features, but has yet to be demonstrated in a high-volume semiconduconductor wafer fabrication environment.
Figures of Merit:Minimum power required for EUV lithography is 115 Watts. Pulse frequency of 7-10 kHz is required with a stability of 3 sigma <0.3%, giving tens of milliseconds pulse durations. The UW technique is the only known method that meets these criteria.
Tech.  Obstacles:Further work at UW is underway to reduce the size of the system, characterize the light (power, spectral distribution, stability) produced and demonstrate feasability in a lithographic application.
Market Obstacles:EUV systems require a change from transmissive optics to reflective optics, a vacuum instead of a nitrogen atmosphere, considerable R&D of photomasks and photoresist materials, and a significant upgrade in the cleanliness of lithography systems and their operating environment. However, industry consortiums and joint collaborations are focused on solving these barriers to allow continued reduction of feature sizes for next-generation semiconductor devices.
Patent Landscape:U.S. #6,894,298, Imtiaz,, issued 5/17/05 U.S. #6,804,327, Schriever,, issued 10/12/04 U.S. #6,566,667, Partlo,, issued 5/20/03
Publications:Shumlak, U.; Nelson, B.A.; Golino, R.P.; Jackson, S.L.; Crawford, E.A.; \"Sheared flow stabilization experiments in the ZaP flow Z pinch\", Physics of Plasmas, Volume 10, No. 5, May, 2003.
Research Team:Two tenured faculty with combined 30 years of experience in this area; two graduate students and one post-doctoral student. Their primary research is directed at stabilization of magnetically-confined plasmas in complex geometries, as part of the development of a fusion thruster for space exploration.


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