CNSE Readying NFX Fab for G450C, EUV Efforts

EUV lithography and 450mm wafers are at the epicenter of new construction in New York State.

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By David Lammers
Two key areas of the semiconductor industry’s future—the 450mm wafer transition and EUV lithography—are the focus of the new NFX (NanoFab Xtension) building now under construction at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) of the University at Albany.

Alain Kaloyeros

The cooperative research effort at CNSE and the Global 450 Consortium (G450C) could springboard New York into the 450mm fab era at some point, said Alain Kaloyeros, senior vice president and CEO of CNSE. The consortium, announced by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in September 2011, includes IBM, Intel, GlobalFoundries, TSMC and Samsung, as well as CNSE.

Kaloyeros, in an interview at the NanoFab complex, said, “Now that there is a consensus that 450 is happening, our role is to create the environment, enable the resource innovation and the manufacturing innovation for the transition. The NFX facility is going to be heavily focused on tool development and demonstration, but at the end of the day, all this is going to be driven by innovation.”

With the 14nm node as the potential baseline at the NFX facility, half of the building is dedicated to the work of the G450C consortium, with the remainder for EUV-related programs which are part of an extension of the Center for Semiconductor Research (CSR), led by CNSE and IBM, with a focus on 14nm and beyond technologies.

The currently operating NanoFab North (NFN) building has an initial set of six 450mm tools within 4,000 to 5,000 square feet of cleanroom space. The early work has focused on automation development. To get ready for the tool and process development phases, the consortium is building a bank of 450 wafers to be shared by the members. The consortium has ordered 6,000 450mm wafers, at a per wafer price of $4,500, he said.

The new building will have 280,000 square feet of total space in a four-level building, with a total of 60,000 square feet of clean space, of which 45,000 square feet of cleanroom is on a waffle slab. The waffle slab in the NFX building is a reinforced 4-ft.-thick concrete structure capable of supporting 750 lbs. per square foot to obtain the load rating and vibration specification needed for the EUV NSE:3300 tool.

Interior view of the NFX clean room at CNSE. (Source: CNSE)

The 45,000 square foot cleanroom will have a single separation wall with the G450 space on one side and the CSR (Center for Semiconductor Research) EUV Center of Competency in the other. In addition, there is a quiet SEM/TEM room in the subfab on a 6-foot-thick slab, said Jonathan Holder, vice president for facilities and infrastructure at CNSE.

Construction of the building is expected to wrap up late this year; the schedule has been gated by delays to the EUV lithography source power modules. Tool hook-up work needed for the ASML NXE:3300 scanner will begin in October of this year with tool components arriving during the fourth quarter and into early next year. Installation of the dedicated gantry crane above the scanner is scheduled for July of this year.

The NFX building, at top center, is connected to CNSE Nanofab North.

EUV and 450

Kaloyeros said the G450C members are “working on a lithography solution, but we don’t know if it is going to be an early EUV tool or immersion 193 or imprint. We are in the process of having those discussions with the consortium members, and I can’t say now if they are contemplating one option or multiple options. But all of us understand that having a litho program is critical to the G450C.”

Despite the delays, Kaloyeros said the companies working at CNSE still see EUV as “very much a viable solution. They haven’t given up on it. A different question is: What litho technology is needed for a 450 fab? That could be EUV, or it could be by immersion litho being pushed. It could be immersion—who knows? The point is that by the time the 450 fabs are ready to be built if they don’t have EUV it is not going to kill construction of the 450mm fabs.”

A 450mm Fab in New York?

A decade ago Kaloyeros was critical of Intel for not doing much of its consortia R&D at CNSE. Now he is singing a different tune, happy that Intel is taking a leading role in the G450C effort based in Albany. “Intel was not a big player here. Now they are a big player. That is a big breakthrough for CNSE.”

Asked if Intel or other G450C member companies might build a fab in New York, Kaloyeros replied that “there is a very strong hope that when they are ready to build a 450 millimeter fab that they will consider New York. Governor Cuomo has said that New York really is open for business, and he personally has been leading this.”