SEMATECH receives key litho tool to develop advanced ICs

September 2, 2005 – SEMATECH has received a key tool for exploring the extension of immersion lithography to produce advanced semiconductors at the 45 nm half-pitch lithography generation and beyond. The tool, an interference immersion exposure system from Amphibian Systems, will be placed in the Immersion Technology Center (iTC), which focuses on extending immersion lithography beyond pure water-based approaches.

The Amphibian equipment arrived in August and will be available this month for use by SEMATECH and researchers from its member companies and suppliers.

The iTC forms part of the Advanced Materials Research Center (AMRC), a joint effort between SEMATECH and Texas universities, and will also be available for use by academic researchers from around the state.

“The Amphibian is the latest in a series of highly engineered tools that will help to explore the ultimate limits of optical lithography,” said Kevin Kemp, SEMATECH’s lithography director. “It also puts Texas in the forefront of one of our industry’s most promising R&D initiatives.”

In immersion lithography, a transparent liquid is placed between an exposure tool’s projection lens and a wafer, allowing higher resolution to be achieved. Previous work at SEMATECH has been focused on bringing immersion lithography to the point of manufacturability using pure water as the immersion fluid. Now, the focus is shifting toward extending the technology even further using fluids with higher refractive indices than water, larger numerical apertures (NAs), special photoresists, and polarization-adjustment strategies.

The Amphibian system is designed to study immersion lithography with novel fluids and resists at up to 1.5 NA. The tool consists of a 2mm exposure field size, a full range of polarization controls, and the ability to image both line patterns and contact features. A fluid delivery system allows for the use of water or alternative fluids, with the ability to change fluids rapidly between wafers. The system is fully enclosed in an ultra-clean environment.

The AMRC focuses on leading-edge materials and capabilities for next-generation semiconductors, as well as cutting-edge research in nanotechnology, biotechnology, and other related advanced high-tech areas. The aim of the five-year AMRC effort is to accelerate the commercialization of critical technology research that economists believe will generate the industries, careers, and tax revenue of the future.

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