Monday, December 11, 2023

Canon Litho Software Years From Business Use, Analysts Say


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Canon’s new nanoprint lithography software will take years to rival the EUV gear that ASML alone supplies to make the world’s most superior semiconductors, analysts advised EE Occasions.

Canon final week started selling its FPA-1200NZ2C nanoimprint software that stamps a masks with a circuit sample onto a silicon wafer. That tech differs from the optical mechanism completely utilized in ASML EUV instruments to undertaking a sample onto a masks.

An FPA-1200NZ2C in operation. (Supply: Canon)

The Canon expertise faces a number of hurdles, together with an absence of precision and potential restrictions on gross sales of the gear to China, consultants advised EE Occasions.

“With nanoimprint expertise, will probably be very robust to be on par with what EUV can attain when it comes to high quality,” stated Cedric Rolin, a program supervisor with semiconductor R&D group imec. Nanoimprint’s degree of defectivity is “fairly excessive,” he stated.

For a minimum of two years, ASML’s place might be protected because the world’s solely provider of lithography gear able to making chips on the 2-nm node and past, stated Gaurav Gupta, VP of analysis at Gartner. 

He added that the Canon gear is more likely to be topic to export controls which have blocked China’s use of high-end lithography.

 “If it really works, and yield and throughput has been labored via, I might anticipate a minimum of two to a few years or extra earlier than it’s adopted in high-volume manufacturing,” he stated. “That is assuming it does what’s being promised. From my expertise with such transformative bulletins, it’s for much longer earlier than we see indicators of execution.”

Canon’s press assertion stated its nanoimprint expertise permits patterning with a minimal linewidth of 14 nm, equal to the 5-nm node. With additional enchancment of masks expertise, nanoimprint lithography will allow circuit patterning with a minimal linewidth of 10 nm, which corresponds to the 2-nm node, the corporate stated.

Gupta stated proof of the tech will include business adoption:

“I might get extra confidence as soon as a chipmaker deploys it after which comes out and says yield and throughput are equal or shut to standard lithography. Additionally, if it may possibly do 5-nm node, which means it may possibly do 28-nm or 14-nm nodes simply. How come somebody in Japan or wherever else hasn’t but adopted it? Whether it is that promising, why wait to make the expertise prepared at 5-nm logic solely, why not at an older or mature node, the place it might need been simpler?”

Nanoimprint could have potential functions in memory-chip manufacturing, which is extra tolerant of defectivity points than logic, Robert Maire, president of Semiconductor Advisors, stated in a e-newsletter offered to EE Occasions. Nanoimprint runs at decrease decision and is much from being a “actual world,” high-volume manufacturing resolution, he added.

“Defectivity and alignment have been perpetual issues and limitations of nanoimprint,” Maire stated. “We do applaud Canon in making glorious progress, by the relentless engineering that Japanese corporations are recognized for, however primary technical limitations nonetheless stay.”

One benefit of the nanoimprint software is its smaller carbon footprint, Canon stated.

Because the new product doesn’t require a lightweight supply with a particular wavelength, it may possibly scale back energy use considerably in contrast with photolithography gear, the corporate stated. ASML’s EUV gear consumes massive quantities of vitality to vaporize tin droplets that emit EUV gentle with an especially quick wavelength of 13.5 nanometers.

Canon purchased a few of the nanoimprint expertise when it acquired Molecular Imprints of Texas in 2014, Maire famous. That might make the Canon software topic to U.S. export controls on delicate expertise to China.

The Japanese authorities’s cooperation with the U.S. on export controls can even restrict China’s potential to amass the expertise, Gupta stated.

“If it in any respect seems that the expertise is powerful and mature sufficient to assist modern logic, I’m certain the united stateswill have the ability to work with the Japanese authorities so as to add it, inside limits, on exports to China.” 


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