September 29, 2005 16:00 ET

Magnification Ratio Change Unlikely for 32 nm Half-Pitch, SEMATECH-Led Meeting Decides

BRUGES, BELGIUM -- (MARKET WIRE) -- September 29, 2005 -- The existing lithography mask standard of 4X magnification with 26 mm field size is likely resilient enough to take the semiconductor industry to the 32 nm half-pitch technology generation, leading equipment suppliers and manufacturers concluded at a recent SEMATECH-sponsored workshop.

Participants at 2005 Mask Magnification/Field Size Workshop, held Sept. 12 in Bruges, also reached consensus that moving to new mask ratios, fields, and reticle sizes is not likely to be needed, and expressed confidence that mask suppliers would be ready for 32 nm half-pitch lithography by 2010. Held in conjunction with the 2nd International Symposium on Immersion Lithography, the invitation-only workshop included about 50 litho professionals representing exposure tool companies, subsystem suppliers, SEMATECH members, and other microchip-makers.

"The workshop allowed both tool companies and IC manufacturers to gain clarity on the challenges and opportunities involved in deciding whether a change in lithography magnification or field size would be needed for the 32 nm half-pitch," said Michael Lercel, SEMATECH's associate director of Lithography and workshop organizer. "The consensus is that we can get there without any major changes in the current magnification ratio and field size for either 193 nm immersion or extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL)."

Lercel said tool suppliers asked SEMATECH to organize the meeting to assess the risks and rewards of changing various aspects of the litho equation for 32 nm half-pitch. After viewing technical presentations from exposure tool suppliers, photomask manufacturers, IC manufacturers, and others, participants broke into working groups to assess the pros and cons of making changes to mask magnification ratio, mask blank size, and/or field size.

Participants then generated a list of critical issues that, unless assumptions on progress of these issues are not met, could alter the perception on the need for changes in magnification ratio and field size. These critical issues included mask fabrication readiness for 32 nm, control of polarization effects for optical lithography, optical proximity correction (OPC) accuracy, and EUVL mask defect requirements.

SEMATECH then led a non-binding survey in which the workshop participants:

--  Preferred by more than 90% to remain at 4X magnification, and by more
    than 75% to remain at 26 mm fields, with low support for proposals for 8X
    and alternate fields of 22 mm and 13 mm
--  Predicted that the industry will need large exposure fields of at
    least 22 mm on a side
--  Categorized field stitching as possible but not preferred, with more
    than half calling the practice "somewhat acceptable"
--  Doubted by a two-thirds majority that the industry could support two
    magnification ratios for critical levels at the same time
--  Gave an overwhelming 94% forecast that mask infrastructure would be
    "likely" or "somewhat likely" to deliver 4X masks for patterning 32 nm half-
    pitch by 2010
"After everyone put their risks and rewards on the table and considered the tradeoffs, there wasn't enough carrot to justify the stick," Lercel noted.

SEMATECH members and the industry can now monitor development of mask fabrication technology and polarization control and understanding, and balance more in-depth research into those technologies with the implications of a magnification ratio or field size change.

SEMATECH is the world's catalyst for accelerating the commercialization of technology innovations into manufacturing solutions. By setting global direction, creating opportunities for flexible collaboration, and conducting strategic R&D, SEMATECH delivers significant leverage to our semiconductor and emerging technology partners. In short, we are accelerating the next technology revolution. For more information, please visit our website at SEMATECH, the SEMATECH logo, AMRC, Advanced Materials Research Center, ATDF, the ATDF logo, Advanced Technology Development Facility, ISMI and International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative are servicemarks of SEMATECH, Inc.

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