IBM has recently reported that their latest ASML extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography scanner system, NXE3300B, has produced 637 wafers in its first 24 hours of operation using a 44 watt light source at a rate of 34 wafers per hour, exceeding their target throughput of 500 wafers per day.
EUV is considered as the next generation technology for lithography scanners that will make the continuation of Moore’s law possible. As predicted by Moore’s law, the amount of transistors that can fit in a chip at a reasonable cost will double every two years. And the industry is now looking at EUV as the primary printing solution for finer patterns of smaller and denser chips.
However, even at the rate of IBM’s EUV scanner, it will still be difficult for the industry to continually shrink the transistors in a chip. This technology will still be under research due to a couple of challenges. One of which is the weak light source, limiting the system from reaching the throughput requirement of at least 100 wafers per hour for mass volume production. Such throughput needs about 250 watts of light. Dan Corliss, IBM program manager for EUV development, said that they [IBM] are hoping to get an 80 watts of light source from ASML in about six months.
Comparing with the previous EUV systems of IBM and ASML which produced 7 and 14 wafers per day, respectively, this latest result of 637 wafers in a day is definitely a pleasant surprise for both IBM and ASML. Corliss’ team has been working on the EUV technology for 12 years. They had been calibrating the NXE3300B scanner for two months, which was initially delivered with only 25 watts of light source.
During the first tests, the system experienced interruptions along the way and the scanner was only up for about 77% of the time delivering 20 milliJoules across 83 pattern fields per wafer. Corliss estimated that without those interruptions, they would have produced more than 800 wafers in a day. The team is looking at the intermittent availability of the light source, and other issues with the system like mask defects.
In parallel to the EUV research activity in IBM, ASML is also working on pellicle development. Pellicle is the filter used in immersion scanners and the manufacturers of ICs have been wanting it on their EUV systems too. Once ASML successfully emerge pellicle in EUV systems, the industry will surely benefit from this.
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