Manufacturing Bits: March 15

More multi-beam; R&D fab opens; roll-to-roll.

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More multi-beam
The multi-beam e-beam market is a hot topic. For example, Intel is quietly in the process of acquiring IMS Nanofabrication, a developer of multi-beam e-beam tools for mask writing applications.

Meanwhile, at the recent SPIE Advanced Lithography conference, Mapper Lithography disclosed new upgrades for its multi-beam e-beam tool for use in direct-write lithography applications.

In fact, Mapper is now positioning the system for ASICs and other chips at the 28nm node. “It’s an effective and attractive solution for low and medium production,” said Ludovic Lattard, deputy lab manager for lithography at CEA-Leti. The French R&D organization has spearheaded a multi-beam lithography program called Imagine.

After 10 years in R&D, Mapper last year rolled out its tool—the FLX-1200. At one time, the goal was to devise a 13,000 beam system. When Mapper introduced the tool last year, though, it consisted of roughly 1,352 beams. Only 70% to 80% of those beams were in operation.

Today, Mapper’s 300mm, 5-KeV tool still has 1,352 beams. At SPIE, though, Mapper said that 97.5% of those beams meet spec. Mapper has also improved the beam stability and alignment accuracy, but the throughput is only 1 wafer an hour with 50% coverage.

R&D fab opens
Imec has officially opened its new 300mm cleanroom facility, an operation that can develop chip technology at 7nm and beyond.

The new cleanroom is a 4000m2 facility. In total, Imec has a total cleanroom space of 12,000m2. The new cleanroom comprises of a total investment of more than 1 billion euros. Of that, the Flemish government provided 100 million euros in funding. Some 900 million euros of investments came from joint R&D with leading IC makers.

Installations of the first tools began in January of 2016. “The extension of our cleanroom provides our partners with the necessary resources for continued leading-edge innovation and Imec’s success in the future within the local and global high-tech industry,” said Luc Van den hove, president and CEO at Imec, in a statement.

Roll-to-roll
After nearly four years in R&D, the TREASORES project has produced its first fruit-—a roll-to-roll process for use in making inexpensive solar cells and LEDs.

In 2012, a group from Europe started TREASORES (Transparent Electrodes for Large Area Large Scale Production of Organic Optoelectronic Devices). The project was led by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa). The project was funded with 9 million euros from the European Commission and an additional 6 million Euros from the project partners.

The project has developed a roll-to-roll production process for several new transparent electrode and barrier materials. The new electrodes have been tested with several types of optoelectronic devices using rolls of over 100 meters in length.

It has developed three electrodes-on-flexible substrate technologies–carbon nanotubes, metal fibers and thin silver. A roll of OLED light sources was made using roll-to-roll techniques at Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology (Fraunhofer FEP) on a thin silver electrode.

In addition, the technology is being used to ramp up roll-to-roll solar technology for a company called Eight19 in the U.K. “The TREASORES project was a success for Eight19 as it made a significant contribution to the reduction in manufacturing cost of Eight19’s plastic solar cells. This was achieved through the customized development and up-scaling of low cost barriers and electrodes in the project consortium. It is an essential step towards the commercialization of Eight19’s organic photovoltaic based on technology developed and produced in Europe,” said Michael Niggemann, chief technology officer for Eight19, on Empa’s Web site.