September 21, 2012 – SK Hynix (the Korean memory chipmaker’s official name now since its buyout by conglomerate SK Telecom) has joined SEMATCH’s EUV Mask Infrastructure (EMI) partnership to help develop metrology tools for reviewing defects in advanced masks needed for extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL).
SEMATECH launched the EMI program in 2010 at the U. of Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), bringing together industry partners (mask and chipmakers, mask blank suppliers, consortia and regional governments) to shoulder development and costs of critical metrology tools for detecting and assessing defects in advanced EUV masks. SEMATECH and Carl Zeiss have been developing an actinic aerial image metrology (AIMS) EUV system as part of efforts to develop a platform for manufacturing defect-free masks, supporting 16nm half-pitch technology and extending to future nodes; a first production-worthy version is expected in mid-2014, with orders already in hand from some SEMATECH participants. Memory manufacturers are expected to be early adopters of EUV technology because of somewhat relaxed defect requirements compared with logic semiconductors.
"EUV mask defectivity is one of the single greatest challenges to EUV readiness, but finding the defects requires metrology tools that do not yet exist," stated Stefan Wurm, director of lithography, SEMATECH. "We are excited by this opportunity to partner with a leading memory maker like SK hynix. With such partnerships, SEMATECH is continuing our commitment to develop and deliver the infrastructure required for this critical next-generation technology."
"Cooperation across the industry in order to meet the stringent requirements of the embedded industry is critical for semiconductor manufacturers," said Sungjoo Hong, Senior Vice President and Head of the R&D Division of SK hynix. "By joining SEMATECH’s EMI Partnership and collaborating with industry-leading partners, we expect to play a key role in accelerating the commercialization of EUV technology by supporting the development of critical metrology tools to enable defect free masks."