The Chemistry Of Semiconductors


At each new process node, the chemistry of chip manufacturing has become much more complex than at previous nodes. But at 5nm and below, it's going to get orders of magnitude more complex. For the first few decades, the chemistry of chips was largely shielded from view for most of the industry. Caustic gases were relatively well understood because they are a potential health hazard, but the ... » read more

Improving EUV Process Efficiency


The semiconductor industry is rethinking the manufacturing flow for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography in an effort to improve the overall process and reduce waste in the fab. Vendors currently are developing new and potentially breakthrough fab materials and equipment. Those technologies are still in R&D and have yet to be proven. But if they work as planned, they could boost the flo... » read more

Startup Funding: February 2020


AI drew the biggest investments last month, with two AI hardware companies and one autonomous driving software startup pulling in nine-figure sums. Investors also pumped money into semiconductor manufacturing and test equipment, notably around EUV lithography and advanced packaging. AI Hardware SambaNova Systems received $250M in Series C funding for its software-defined hardware for AI, le... » read more

EUV Arrives, But More Issues Ahead


EUV has arrived. After decades of development and billions of dollars of investment, EUV lithography is taking center stage at the world’s leading fabs. More than 20 years after ASML's extreme ultraviolet lithography research program began, and nearly a decade after its first pre-production exposure tools, the company expects to deliver 30 EUV exposure systems in 2019. That is nearly doubl... » read more

Photoresist Shape In 3D


Things were easy for integrators when the pattern they had on the mask ended up being the pattern they wanted on the chip. Multi-patterning schemes such as Self-Aligned Double Patterning (SADP) and Self-Aligned Quadruple Patterning (SAQP) have changed that dramatically. Now, what you have on the mask determines only a part of what you will get at the end. You will only obtain your final product... » read more

The Next Resists


As EUV exposure tools, sources, and photomasks have become more capable, the lithography sector’s attention has turned to EUV photoresist. After all, once the exposure system can produce a high quality image at the wafer, the resist still has to capture it for pattern transfer. Unfortunately, the increasing emphasis on photoresist has made the limitations of current formulations even more obv... » read more

Resist Sensitivity, Source Power, And EUV Throughput


In a recent article, I quoted 15 mJ/cm2 as the target sensitivity for EUV photoresists, and discussed the throughput that could be achieved at various source power levels. However, as a commenter on that article pointed out, reaching the 15 mJ/cm² target while also meeting line roughness requirements is itself a challenging problem. Because of the high energy of EUV photons, a highly sensitive... » read more

Is EUV Making Progress?


By Ann Steffora Mutschler & Ed Sperling EUV has been promised for a couple of decades, counted on for at least three process nodes on the ITRS roadmap, and considered essential to chip manufacturing since 22nm. Billions of dollars have been invested in R&D, engineering teams from around the world have contributed to its development, and still serious problems persist. Just how close... » read more

Manufacturing Bits: Sept. 3


Dancing With The Stars In telescopes, the ability to see distant stars and galaxies is driven by the light-gathering area and detectors in the system. In the last 50 years, the collecting area in large-scale telescopes has increased by only a factor of four, according to researchers from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Meanwhile, the sensitivity of CCD detectors has increased... » read more

EUV Remains Elusive


By David Lammers Intel’s decision to invest as much as $4.1 billion in ASML has raised overall confidence levels in EUV lithography, and should allow the Dutch lithography vendor to funnel more funds into the stubbornly difficult effort to raise the EUV source power. ASML has said it needs to reach 250 Watts of average source power to achieve the 125 wph throughputs sought by its early cu... » read more