SOURCE: Frost & Sullivan

Frost & Sullivan

March 10, 2011 08:00 ET

Frost & Sullivan: Direction of Technology Progression to Bridge Gap in Next-Gen Semiconductor Lithography

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwire - March 10, 2011) - In accordance with Moore's Law, continuous advancements has characterized the evolution of the semiconductor industry. With fast paced development, sizes of transistors are shrinking by 50 percent every one to two years. The issue of technical limitations hindering Moore's Law has been widely discussed since the beginning of the decade. Technologies capable of brining semiconductors to the fore provide great opportunities for chip manufacturers, as well as other participants along the supply chain.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.technicalinsights.frost.com), Nanolithography--Emerging Trends, finds that radical changes are afoot in semiconductor fabrication technology owing to the approaching resolution limits. Technology progression expects close monitoring in the future.

If you are interested in a virtual brochure on this study, please send an e-mail to Sarah Saatzer, Corporate Communications, at sarah.saatzer@frost.com, with your full name, company name, job title, telephone number, company e-mail address, company website, city, state and country.

"The lifespan of existing photolithography has been extended several times, introducing additional process steps to be aligned with Moore's Law," notes Technical Insights research analyst Kenneth Chua. "Stepping forward, significant changes in technology will be required and the most promising is extreme ultraviolet photolithography, using light sources of significantly shorter wavelength."

To put it mildly, prime technology choices for next-generation lithography have a record of being uncertain. Prioritization of technology in the past is vastly different in the current landscape. The high degree of complexity brings about many potential blocking points for a technology. As such, there is a need for stakeholders and investors to understand the underlying forces, advantages and disadvantages linked with each technology to predict future directions of its growth.

Extreme ultraviolet (EUV), which is the prime candidate for next-generation lithography, is faced with high complexity levels. Unlike in the past, there is a growing need for technology integration between different disciplines - engineering, chemistry, physics and nuclear science.

Moving to next-generation semiconductor lithography tools involves a high degree of complexity. However, an industry known to solve complex technical challenges can address these issues. Transition of such radical changes to mass production promises a great deal of excitement to both innovators as well as common spectators.

Additionally incurred processes (and cost) due to double patterning on current photolithography equipment underpin the increasing importance of next-generation tools. While the technology has experienced numerous delays in the development cycle, the promise is just too big for chip makers not cash in on it.

Early adopters successfully implementing the technology expect to experience improved cost effectiveness as well as product differentiation. The statement is especially true in an industry where technology leadership carries a big premium and advantage in moving forward along the learning curve. Until the successful transition of EUV gets underway, computational lithography features a growing demand for chipmakers to fabricate dense chips using existing photolithography tools.

Highly technical demands for next-generation tools drive the need for research partnerships to a new level. Several initiatives driven by SEMATECH are already in place at present, particularly in the area of mask inspection, which has the potential to be a showstopper for EUV.

"Alternative technologies such as parallel e-beam and nanoimprinting should not be written-off." says Chua. "Given the degree of complexity, there is always a possibility of EUV encountering blocking points and scientific limitations."

Nanolithography--Emerging Trends, a part of the Technical Insights subscription, provides an insight into the developments in next-generation lithography tools. The study focuses mainly on the semiconductor market, which has the highest requirement for resolution and cost. Further, this research service includes detailed technology analysis and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.

Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alerts, newsletters and research services.

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Nanolithography--Emerging Trends
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