Gigaphoton Inc., a manufacturer of light sources used in lithography, has announced that its helium-free technology has made it possible to achieve a 10,000 kiloliter annual reduction of helium gas consumed by high-output ArF immersion excimer lasers (hereinafter, “ArF lasers”).
In line with its EcoPhoton program, Gigaphoton has continued to initiate “Green Innovation” activities since 2013, which are designed to reduce environmental impact for customers. Through such efforts, the company has built up an extensive record of achievements and experience, which it draws on to realize cost reductions for its customers. In July of this year, Gigaphoton also announced a new roadmap for green innovation. Among its multiple efforts, the company’s “helium-free” technology not only provides a solution to concerns over helium gas supply, but also makes a massive contribution to semiconductor and other industries.
Helium gas is used as a purging gas in ArF lasers, and this technology replaces helium gas with nitrogen gas, making it the world’s first technology to reduce helium consumption by 99%. A notable characteristic of this technology is that, even though helium is replaced with nitrogen, it still achieves higher reliability without sacrificing any optical properties. Even major manufacturers with mass production lines consisting of over 90% lasers who have adopted this technology have found that they are able to continue stable operations with no negative impact on the exposure process. The average amount of helium gas currently consumed per ArF laser is about 80 kiloliters per year. Due to this technology being applied to the majority of lasers in the market, a total of 10,000 kiloliters of helium gas consumption has been reduced on a global basis per year.
Hitoshi Tomaru, President & CEO of Gigaphoton says, “There is a dire need for helium not just in the semiconductor industry, but as an essential element in other fields as well, such as for MRIs in the medical field and for maglev trains. Another major concern has been demand which continues to grow in emerging economies while supply capacity remains essentially flat. Adoption of this helium-free technology will allow helium to be better supplied to sectors that need it most. Gigaphoton is committed to continuing to be the kind of company that can drive such contributions to industry.”