Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Atomic precision: technologies for the next-but-one generation of microchips

24.05.2016

In the Beyond EUV project, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena are developing key technologies for the manufacture of a new generation of microchips using EUV radiation at a wavelength of 6.7 nm. The resulting structures are barely thicker than single atoms, and they make it possible to produce extremely integrated circuits for such items as wearables or mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.

In 1965 Gordon Moore formulated the law that came to be named after him, which states that the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every one to two years. At that time he was regarded as a visionary and pioneering thinker. Today, over 50 years later, we see that the integration density of electronic circuits is still continuing to grow.


Image 1: The photo shows a discharge generated plasma.

© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.


Image 2: The coating of mirrors is carried out with atomic precision at Fraunhofer IOF in Jena.

© Fraunhofer IOF, Jena, Germany.

Now we can store whole libraries on a chip in our smartphones. That was primarily made possible by revolutionary advances in optical technologies and materials science. And although it’s becoming apparent that there are physical limits, developments are not over yet: scientists at Fraunhofer Institutes in Jena and Aachen are working on the next generation of technology for producing even smaller structures.

New target materials for the 6.7 nm radiation source

A key constraint for the lithographic production of ever smaller structures is the wavelength of the light used. In the 1970s the UV light from a mercury vapor lamp was sufficient; the 1990s saw the emergence of excimer lasers with wavelengths of 193 nm. Today, the semiconductor industry combines these radiation sources with refined methods of optical lithography to manufacture structures as small as 14 nm across.

EUV lithography is a completely new technology that has been developed over the last ten years. It works by using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) radiation at a wavelength of 13.5 nm, which is generated by evaporating a droplet of tin with a high-power laser. The aim is to harness the emitted EUV radiation to produce structures with a size of 10 nm or less.

Having played a leading part in developing EUV technology, scientists at Fraunhofer ILT are now focused on the next step: technology that uses radiation with a wavelength of around 6.7 nm. Instead of tin, they are working with targets made of gadolinium or terbium alloys, as these facilitate correspondingly shorter wavelengths.

Teams from the two Fraunhofer Institutes worked together to develop a new optical system with which to characterize the radiation source. This system enables them to measure factors such as light output to a high degree of spatial and spectral resolution.

The output power of the radiation source is now enough to carry out trials on new mirror coatings or light-sensitive varnishes (resists). Development work on the radiation source is ongoing to achieve the necessary power scaling.

Coating mirrors with atomic precision

Unlike traditional optical lithography, EUV lithography functions use only reflective optics; this means the mirrors have to meet extremely exacting requirements. Nowadays the thickness of mirror coatings must be correct to around 10 picometers. That is less than the diameter of an atom.

It is laborious and expensive to generate EUV radiation, and consequently every percentage point of reflectivity matters. In the case of mirrors for 13 nm radiation, it has been possible to achieve a reflectivity of around 65% using alternating films of silicon and molybdenum. When it comes to mirrors for 6.7 nm radiation, experts from Fraunhofer IOF in Jena have developed special systems using lanthanum and boron compounds. Here, too, they are battling to reach the theoretical limit of around 70%.

Applications in many areas

Today there are already more mobile telephones than human beings on Earth – a fact that was partly made possible by enormous advances in microlithography. This field will continue to be of the utmost importance over the coming years, including for new subject areas such as industry 4.0 or the Internet of Things.

That is why experts from the Fraunhofer Institutes for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF and for Laser Technology ILT have been working since the start of 2014 on developing the basic principles for lithography at even shorter wavelengths. They are collaborating with industrial partners Carl Zeiss SMT and ASML in the “Beyond EUV” project, which runs to the end of 2016, to develop key components for 6.7 nm wavelength technology.

These new lithographic techniques will make it possible to produce structures with a thickness of just a few atoms. There are already lots of ideas for how to use integrated circuits formed from such structures: alongside even higher storage capacity for cloud applications and big data processes, they could also be used for mind-controlled prosthetic limbs or more personalized medicine.

Contact

Dr. rer. nat Klaus Bergmann
Group Manager EUV Technology
Telephone +49 241 8906-302
klaus.bergmann@ilt.fraunhofer.de
Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, Aachen, Germany

Prof. Dr. Norbert Kaiser
Head of Optical Coatings
Telephone +49 3641 807-321
norbert.kaiser@iof.fraunhofer.de
Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF, Jena, Germany |

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.ilt.fraunhofer.de/en.html
http://www.iof.fraunhofer.de/en.html

Petra Nolis | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

Further reports about: Atomic EUV Fraunhofer-Institut ILT IOF Laser Lasertechnik integrated circuits microchips wavelength

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Waste from paper and pulp industry supplies raw material for development of new redox flow batteries
12.10.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Low-cost battery from waste graphite
11.10.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>