Gigaphoton, a major lithography source maker based in Japan, is currently making stable but sustained progress in two different areas of the lithography market: 450mm-wafer litho and EUV (extreme ultra violet lithography).
In the quest led by ASML towards a stable, high-power EUV lithography system, Gigaphoton has moved away from the traditional approach led by Cymer and explored an original technology: laser-produced plasma (LPP). Working since 2002 on this field, the Oyama, Japan-based company had now achieved a 43W light output which represents another milestone in pursue of the 250W EUV light source that is necessary for having a high-volume manufacturing-ready stepper machine.
Light-source power is now deemed by many analysts as the number-one issue preventing EUV lithography from reaching mass adoption
Cymer now claims to have a 105W light-source soon ready, but the traditional approach pursued by the American manufacturer, recently acquired by ASML, is taking more time than expected.
Gigaphoton is hoping that their approach to light sources for HWM-steppers can be quicker and give more robust results.
Despite their inferior power output in comparison with Cymer, Gigaphoton expects their LPP technology to scale faster and expect to be able to reach a 250W output in a couple of years.
LPP light source generate EUV light by irradiating tin droplets using a solid-state laser and then using a main CO2 laser as the main source.
Among the various technical issues that the company has been facing, the main one has probably been debris mitigation, which has been partially solved with the use of superconducting magnets.
The Japanese company has however made lots of strides in another field: 450-mm wafer lithography technology
450mm wafers are not expected to become mainstream in the semiconductor industry at least until 2017-2018, and there are many analysts that suggest that the move from 300mm to 450mm-wafers may not happen at all.
However, the big names in the semiconductor industry (Intel, TSMC, IBM among others), are investing heavily to promote the technology and instituted the Global 450C consortium based in Albany, NY, fully dedicated at the development of all the ecosystem needed to create a successful transition in the industry from 300mm- to 450mm- wafer lithography, including all the wafer-testing process, the prototyping and R&D phase and the high-volume equipment
450mm-wafer lithography is still in its infancy, and the ArF lasers required for the first steppers require a highly stable, energy profile with a greatly improved overlay accuracy
Gigaphoton, who has collaborated with G450C since the very beginning, has recently announced that their ArF laser will be used for the first G450C immersion lithography steppers. Gigaphoton is now striving to become the number one light source provider.
While adoption of EUV for 450mm-wafers is forecasted to happen not before the end of this decade at the earliest, it is clear that Gigaphoton is now one or the only company who can play a relevant role in both technologies for the light-source part.
Hitoshi Tomaru, President and CEO of Gigaphoton, said that “we are all very excited to be part of the ground-braking work done at G450C. We [Gigaphoton] are fully committed to offer products and continue to invest to achieve the best results in the research and development of high-quality advanced lithography systems”
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