Cymer delivers EUV light source, first tool from ASML Holding in 2010
After several years of development, Cymer Inc. (CYMI) shipped the first fully integrated laser-produced plasma (LPP) Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography source to ASML Holdings NV (ASML). This is a major breakthrough in semiconductor design tools, with wide implications for semiconductor manufacturing over the next decade.
UV light is basically electromagnetic radiation of a wavelength shorter than that of visible light and longer than that of x-rays. These light sources are of particular importance in excimer lasers used for semiconductor manufacturing, where light passes through a photomask to imprint patterns therein onto a photoresist-coated silicon wafer.
An LPP EUV light source currently produces light at 13.5nm wavelength, which is 15x shorter than existing technologies. In an LPP EUV source, microscopic droplets of molten tin are fired through a vacuum chamber and individually tracked and vaporized by a pulsed high-power infrared laser.
The success of the new technology is tied to its ability to generate the much-needed volumes that could continue to lower the cost of individual chips. Cymer has already announced its ability to deliver 75 watts of power, which could expose a full die. Management hopes to scale this up to 100 watts by the end of the current quarter.
The higher power raises the throughput rate, which is currently 60 12-inch wafers per hour. The throughpout rate is expected to reach 100 wafers per hour when fully integrated with ASML scanners. ASML has already received orders for EUV lithographic tools from five customers across three continents. There should be more orders, as semiconductor capital equipment spending improves.
Founded in 1997 by Intel Inc. (INTC), the EUV LLC Consortium has played a key role in the development of the technology. The consortium consists of many of leading technology companies in the U.S. chip, including Motorola (MOT), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Micron Technologies (MU), Infineon Technologies and International Business Machines (IBM).
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