KLA-Tencor Corporation has introduced PROLITHTM 12, a new version of its industry-leading computational lithography tool. This new tool enables researchers to cost-effectively explore the feasibility of various mask designs, photo materials and processes associated with Extreme Ultra-Violet (EUV) lithography.
Shrinking the dimensions of critical device features on the chip enables fabs to produce faster microprocessors, but the wavelength of light used to expose the mask during patterning imposes a lower limit on the size of the features that can be created. The semiconductor industry has been using deep ultra-violet (DUV) light for the past several device generations. The next shorter wavelength regime is EUV. Experts have predicted that EUV lithography has the potential to create devices one hundred times faster than today's most powerful chips.
A change in lithography wavelength has historically been a major undertaking, as new scanners, new photo materials and new masks have to be developed and tested. The shift to EUV lithography would introduce the novel challenge of having to pattern wafers using reflected light from opaque masks, because no known, practical mask materials are transparent to EUV light. This fundamental change introduces asymmetries to the pattern printed on the wafer. PROLITH 12 is designed to handle these and other challenges unique to EUV systems.
KLA-Tencor will showcase PROLITHTM 12 on October 6-10 at the 2008 SPIE/BACUS Photomask Symposium in Monterey, California.