Toshiba and Canon, two of the major Japanese companies operating in the semiconductor business, have teamed up to develop nanoimprint technology for NAND applications. As we discussed already in this blog a few days ago Canon is seriously committed to nanoimprint lithography and they have recently bought Molecular Imprints, a company based in Texas, US, to gain traction with the new technology.
Nanoimprint lithography has the potential to revolutionize the lithography market but so far suffered from a series of problems that prevented full adoption for IC patterning: the main one being lack of alignment precision between two consecutive imprints.
If this and other problems (such as defectivity in the master mold and planarity control between the master mold and the substrate) will be overcome, nanoimprint lithography may become a serious alternative to conventional lithography due to the relatively inexpensive cost of imprinting a large number of wafers with a single master mold.
While logic patterning may still be challenging for nanoimprint lithography, NAND patterning has been seen for a while as the first step for full-scale adoption of the technology in mass production.
The strategy adopted by the two companies will require the installation of Canon machines at Toshiba` s plant in Mie prefecture. As for how the Research and development costs will be split between the two companies, a formal detailed announcement will be done later this year.
Currently, Toshiba is competing for the top spot in the NAND market with Samsung electronics of Korea with both contenders trying to reduce the cost of patterning per wafer and increasing the number of transistors packed per area.
The current patterning for NAND is based on 19nm lithography technology, with plans to move to a thinner and more precise 16nm~17nm process this summer.
Toshiba is already using ASML lithography machines and will add Canon imprint machines thanks to this collaboration.
Link (in Japanese): http://www.nikkan.co.jp/news/nkx0320140227aaaq.html?source=myce
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