Stabilized Plasma Light Source for EUV Lithography
Introduction Researchers at the UW have developed a novel technique to produce a gas discharge plasma with a lifetime up to 2000 times longer than conventional methods. The plasma can serve as a stable light source for extreme ultraviolet lithography processing of microelectronic devices. Technology description Using a flow-stabilized Z-pinch approach, a stable plasma has been produced using hydrogen and other materials. The stabilized plasma emits light radiation at wavelengths that can be tuned by the choice of plasma material. By proper choice of materials, the plasma can serve as a high-power light source that emits intense light at 13.5 nm, ideal for extreme ultraviolet
(EUV) lithography. This wavelength has been selected as the industry standard for next generation, high-density semiconductor chips. Business opportunity SEMATECH has identified EUV lithography as a critical technology for the semiconductor industry. The primary challenge facing continued reduction of integrated circuit geometries lies in the fabrication method itself: photolithography has been the workhorse process since the inception of the semiconductor industry. But as feature sizes move into the nanometer scale, novel photoresist materials, photomasks, alignment techniques, light sources, optical materials and exposure systems are needed to reach 65 nm by 2007 and 45 nm by 2010 as planned by the Semiconductor Industry Associations International Technology Roadmap. While other 13.5 nm light sources have been developed, they do not yet meet the power and lifetime requirements needed for high volume wafer processing. Stage of development The flow-stabilized Z-pinch plasma has been demonstrated on a prototype system, and preliminary data has been obtained. Intellectual property position A U.S. patent is pending, and the technology is available for licensing.
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