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Imec to Install High NA EUV Imaging and Attosecond Analytical Lab to Probe Lithography down to 8nm pitch

SAN FRANCISCO (US), FEBRUARY 26, 2019 — Today, imec, a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, and KMLabs, pioneers and world leaders in ultrafast laser and EUV technology, announce a joint development to create a real-time functional imaging and interference lithography laboratory. This lab will enable imaging in resist on 300mm wafers down to an unprecedented 8nm pitch. Additionally, it will enable time-resolved nanoscale characterization of complex materials and processes, such as photoresist radiation chemistry, two-dimensional materials, nanostructured systems and devices, emergent quantum materials.  

These capabilities expand upon imec’s post process analysis capability and will allow the characterization of the molecular and quantum dynamics of materials within the attosecond to picosecond (10-18 s to 10-12 s) time regime, as well as to image lithographic feature sizes that far exceed the technology roadmap.  At this week’s 2019 SPIE Advanced Lithography Conference, imec Principle Scientist John Petersen and other authors further detail the imec attolab in various papers.  

The ability to pattern ever-smaller feature sizes and denser pitches is significantly challenged due to a lack of fundamental understanding of EUV sub-picosecond exposure processes. The first industrial laboratory to do so, imec’s attolab will enable the study of EUV photon absorption and subsequent ionization processes at unprecedented timescales from attoseconds to picoseconds. It is anticipated that the gain in fundamental understanding of material characteristics pave the way for the development of new lithographic materials and underlayers.

Because of the coherence of KMLabs’ high-flux source, imec’s attolab will also enable interference imaging to emulate high numerical aperture (NA) imaging at 13.5nm. By combining the interference emulation of the 0.55NA of ASML’s most advanced tool in development with the current HVM-relevant EUV scanner (NXE:3400B) in imec’s cleanroom, imec and its partners will be able to explore the fundamental dynamics of photoresist imaging before the 0.55NA tools become available. The 300mm interference lithography (IL) capability will allow them to study advanced patterning films and processes using state-of-the art metrology tools, and will continue to be used to extend the knowledge of resist physics and chemistries to the very limits of material science.  

While initially setting out to aid the development of next-generation EUV lithography tools, many other research areas will benefit from such a state-of-the-art facility. Beyond molecular dynamics and ionization processes of imaging materials, this lab will also provide the ability to do attosecond time-resolved electron spectroscopy and imaging of materials in an industrial setting. This is essential to accelerate the development of tomorrows logic, memory, and quantum devices, and of next-generation metrology and inspection techniques.

The new laboratory will be equipped with multiple KMLabs EUV beamlines, providing the platform for a jointly developed series of EUV end stations.

“Bringing this high-NA exposure and attosecond analytic capability to imec’s 300mm cleanroom will enable unprecedented fundamental learning, significantly speed up cycles of learning, and positively impact the semiconductor technology roadmap in many critical domains,” Greg McIntyre, director of advanced patterning at imec. 

Stochastic defectivity, resist photochemistry, and novel electronic materials development are all critical to the next generation of semiconductor enablement.  KMLabs is proud to work with imec on system development, advanced metrology, and solutions in these areas.” Dr. Kevin Fahey, CEO KMLabs.

About imec

Imec is a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. The combination of our widely acclaimed leadership in microchip technology and profound software and ICT expertise is what makes us unique. By leveraging our world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries, we create groundbreaking innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, energy and education.

As a trusted partner for companies, start-ups and universities we bring together more than 4,000 brilliant minds from over 85 nationalities. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, and offices in India and Japan. In 2017, imec’s revenue (P&L) totaled 546 million euro. Further information on imec can be found at www.imec-int.com.

About KMLabs

KMLabs (Boulder, Colorado, U.S.) is a leading manufacturer of compact, high-performance, ultrafast advanced lasers and systems for research and industrial applications, including multi-photon imaging, spectroscopy, , coherent soft X-ray and EUV femtosecond-to-attosecond pulse generation and applications in imaging and spectroscopy. It is the only commercial supplier of a coherent tabletop soft X-ray laser light source. The company’s femtosecond laser systems (Ti:sapphire and also fiber laser based) offer unprecedented power, stability, and control,  opening-up new possibilities for fundamental research and industrial metrology, imaging, and materials characterization. Additional information can be found at www.kmlabs.com.

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