Thanks to a series of highly successful projects in the EUREKA MEDEA+ Cluster, Europe leads the way in extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography for the production of future generations of semiconductor chips. As a result of strong co-operation between chipmakers, equipment suppliers and research centres, European companies will dominate the world market for equipment and materials. This is expected to generate some 18,000 jobs, mainly at a high technical level, as well as a €1 billion turnover by 2009.
Lithography plays a key role in the production of integrated circuits and now accounts for some 35% of the processing cost of silicon chips. It involves directing light through a photomask to project an image of the desired circuit onto the silicon semiconductor wafer covered with a light-resistant photoresist. As circuit details become smaller and smaller, the wavelength of the light has also reduced and is reaching the limits of the deep ultraviolet range. The solution for future generations of even smaller dimensioned circuits is the use of EUV with a wavelength of 13.5 nm, which are actually considered as soft X-rays.
Covering the main elements of the lithography process
Catherine Shiels | alfa
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