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Saturday, September 18, 2021

CONTEXT: Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography for Semiconductor Manufacturing, Part 1 of 3

The latest generation of integrated circuits have device geometries far smaller than the wavelength of visible light. The shortest wavelength the human eye can perceive is around 380 nanometres, while feature sizes in production chips are as small as 7 nanometres, with the next generation expected to be 5 nanometres. To expose the circuitry on a silicon wafer requires illumination on the scale of the feature size, so visible light has become hopeless. Extreme ultraviolet (EUV), which occupies a band of the electromagnetic spectrum just below soft X-rays, provides a way to reach such geometries, with a wavelength of 13.5 nanometres used in semiconductor manufacturing today. But it isn't easy: almost all materials absorb EUV, so lenses cannot be used to focus it and all processing must be done in a vacuum. The best mirrors, which are themselves hideously difficult to manufacture nanoscale structures, reflect only around 70% of incident light, and EUV and the means used to generate it rapidly degrade materials. The process of taming EUV and applying it to mass manufacturing has taken over twenty years by a global collaboration of researchers, technologists, and industry. This video series traces the story of its development.

Posted at September 18, 2021 11:15