SEMATECH urged to guide industry on immersion technology

Dec. 18, 2002 – Austin, TX – More than 100 of the world’s top lithography experts attending an International SEMATECH (ISMT) workshop to review the state of immersion lithography technology urged the consortium to help coordinate and accelerate a feasibility study on the technology.

Participants want to know within six months whether immersion holds the promise it appears to offer as a cost-effective extension of existing optical lithography technology.

“The results from this fact-finding workshop have already evolved, literally overnight, into several action-oriented working groups that will tackle some of the more difficult questions surrounding immersion technology,” said Walt Trybula, ISMT Senior Fellow and chair of the Workshop. “If 193nm immersion lithography can be implemented in time and with competitive cost of ownership figures, it could be a very attractive technology to semiconductor manufacturers.”

In immersion lithography, the space between the projection lens and the wafer is filled with a liquid. For 193nm exposure wavelength, water turns out to be the preferred transparent medium. Immersion technology appears to offer better resolution enhancement over conventional projection lithography because the lens can be designed with numerical apertures higher than one, which results in the ability to produce smaller images.

The technology’s potential to extend optical lithography has been investigated over the last two years by a few researchers, but over the last few months it has piqued more general interest among tool manufacturers and device makers. “Our role at International SEMATECH is to address a few critical areas that bring about an improved understanding of fundamental characteristics and properties of materials involved in immersion lithography, and to determine if new materials such as photoresists need to be developed,” said Tony Yen, Co-Director of Lithography at ISMT, and an assignee from TSMC. “We will help accelerate the feasibility study to determine if and when immersion technology will be used in manufacturing.”

Participants in the workshop included lithographers from the US, Europe and Asia, representing manufacturers, toolmakers, materials suppliers, consortia, universities, and ISMT member companies.

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