As a semiconductor industry leader, SEMATECH embraces its responsibility to extend existing lithography technologies for as long as possible, while developing next-generation solutions and investigating alternative approaches.
We also stress continued improvement and evolution in lithography infrastructure. This focus is grounded in real-world manufacturing feasibility and cost of ownership (COO)—a characteristic of all SEMATECH programs.
Additionally, SEMATECH continues to sponsor and organize international symposia that bring the world’s leading lithographers together to improve fundamental understanding of both the needs and the challenges facing the semiconductor manufacturing industry.
Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography
Extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) is an advanced form of lithography that uses extremely short wavelength (13.5 nm) light, mirrors and reflective photomasks to image circuit patterns onto the surface of semiconductor wafers. The microchips that are produced with EUV technology contain features 32 nm wide or smaller, and are projected to be as much as 100 times faster, with 1,000 times the memory capacity of today's most powerful computer chips.
SEMATECH’s vision is to deliver key capability that will enable EUV mask blanks with linewidths of 22 nm and below, while providing imaging capability to test resists at the same dimensions; and drive defect-free reticle carriers to commercialization.
Defect-Free Mask Development
A mask is a microscopically detailed, stencil-like device that is used with light or radiation to transfer microscopic circuit patterns onto the surface of a wafer. Masks are integral to the chip production process and can be very costly to make, especially as chip features shrink to just tens of nanometers.
SEMATECH plays a unique role in supporting mask infrastructure development, spearheaded by its EUV Mask Blank Development Center, the world’s sole research facility devoted to improving mask blanks.
EUVL Mask Infrastructure Partnership
SEMATECH's EUV Mask Infrastructure Partnership connects multiple segments of the EUV supply chain with chip-makers, research consortia and regional governments in an effort to collectively fund the development of the critical metrology tools needed for detecting defects in advanced EUVL masks.
Resist and Materials Development
Advances in lithographic patterning are vitally dependent on the timely availability of reliable resists and materials. Successful development of new resists and materials may take years—in some cases a decade or longer can pass between the identification of promising new materials in basic research and their eventual introduction into semiconductor manufacturing.
SEMATECH’s Resist and Materials Development Center (RMDC) is the leading facility worldwide focused on the development of resist and materials for 22 nm patterning technologies and beyond.
Like an evolving species, lithography has morphed through many technologies over the past 40 years, often defying the predictions of leading scientists. Mindful of this history, SEMATECH continues to look beyond conventional approaches to include alternative technologies such as nanoimprint lithography.
Analogous to a rubber stamp, nanoimprint lithography uses a nanoscale mold to form circuit patterns. Although process is demanding because of the extremely small geometries involved, nanoimprint offers the potential to make chips without masks.
SEMATECH is currently working to demonstrate whether nanoimprint to can achieve quality litho imaging and deliver an assessment of maskless lithography for possible insertion into the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors.