3 August 2012
Despite the economic calamity in Europe some governments still have good chunks of cash to back technology development.
The German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is putting 7 million euro (about $8.5 million) towards a three-year project called ETIK to improve the optics inside extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines and help take resolution down to 14-nm and below.
The project is led by Carl Zeiss SMT GmbH (Oberkochen, Germany), which is leading a team of seven German companies in all. If the money is spent right and the project produces results it should help maintain Europe’s lead in chip lithography. Carl Zeiss optical systems are already used in the EUV lithography machines produced by ASML Holding NV (Veldhoven, The Netherlands).
The project will work on the illumination system and the projection optics. This includes mirror facets for an optical switching system and an inovative design for the surfaces of the reflection mirrors in the projection lens. Because the whole project is close to the limits of resolution work will need to be done in the fields of optical measurement, micro-cooling and precision engineering.
The mirrors are in use because it is hard to make refractive optics that work with the 13.5-nanometer wavelength illumination, so focusing is done by bouncing the light of a series of mirrors.