SPIE: SEMATECH starting imprint litho work, buys MII tool

Feb. 27, 2008 – SEMATECH has purchased Molecular Imprints new Imprio 300 tool to demonstrate the feasibility of nanoimprint lithography for 32nm and below semiconductor production. Initial work will focus on demonstrating and enhancing overlay performance, and identify development areas to accelerate the introduction of the technology into manufacturing. Delivery is scheduled for mid-2008.

SEMATECH’s involvement with imprint litho follows MII’s publicized work with Toshiba, which last fall said it isolated 18nm features with defect levels “very similar” to those seen in the early days of immersion lithography’s introduction.

The industry’s progression to sub-32nm node semiconductor manufacturing comes with increasing costs and challenges, with one of the notable areas in extending lithography technologies and development of new ones. “One of SEMATECH’s goals is to identify cost-effective and manufacturable technologies,” said Michael Lercel, lithography director at SEMATECH, in a statement. “Nanoimprint has demonstrated excellent resolution and image fidelity, so now is the time to evaluate its manufacturability.

“MII’s S-FIL technology is ideally suited for patterning critical layers in sub-32nm devices, and we anticipate that successful prototyping at the 32nm node will lead to volume manufacturing adoption,” stated Mark Melliar-Smith, CEO of Molecular Imprints, adding that “increasing industry investment in the imprint technology roadmap will accelerate its introduction into manufacturing.”

MII says its step-and-flash imprint litho technology (“S-FIL”) replicates ultrahigh resolution e-beam litho, but with costs likened to dry optical lithography, the company noted, adding that its technology has demonstrated sub-10nm resolution patterning capability.

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