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Nine leading IC makers sign up with ASML to develop 157nm lithography solutions

ASML Netherlands B.V. : 13 July, 2000  (Company News)
Nine leading-edge semiconductor manufacturers have joined ASML's industry-wide 157nm lithography technology program, which the lithography equipment leader launched 11 months ago. Advanced Micro Devices, Infineon, Motorola, Philips, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, ST Microelectronics and three other top ten IC manufacturers have joined ASML and its strategic technology partners, including Carl Zeiss, in the program to extend imaging capabilities and deliver 157nm lithography systems for advanced IC manufacturing by 2003.
ASML is spearheading the effort to create a 300mm-capable, 157nm scanning system that will exceed the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors requirements for the 70nm technology node and possibly beyond. Several industry organizations including International Sematech have cited 157nm lithography as an important candidate for printing semiconductor circuit linewidths at the 70nm technology node and below.

'157nm optical lithography is the key enabler for extending Moore's Law into the next decade-and beyond,' commented Jay Deahna, semiconductor equipment analyst with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. 'This program, bringing together a blue chip group of chipmakers to develop 157nm processes, supports our thesis that ASML is increasingly being viewed as the premier supplier of advanced photolithographic technology.'

The program consists of two parts. The first part relates to a 157nm exposure system, and allows IC makers to receive early 157nm imaging tools. Quarterly technical reviews enable the participating companies to give input on system design, program execution and prioritization of the program's overall efforts. The resulting equipment is currently scheduled to begin shipping to program members by the end of 2003.

The second part of the program focuses on developing the infrastructure for 157nm lithography, including photoresists, reticles and processes. This work will use a prototype 'mini-stepper' installed in Leuven, Belgium, at IMEC, a leading independent research center for state-of-the-art microelectronic technologies. Participants in this part of the program have access to the process data and experience that is generated, gain first access to integrated process knowledge for pilot production, and acquire experience with 157nm infrastructure elements ranging from reticle handling to optical enhancement techniques such as optical proximity correction and phase shift masks.

'Last July, we began to actively solicit investments of technical resources and participation from all parties that have a role in continuing to shrink the design rules of advanced semiconductor devices,' said Martin van den Brink, executive vice president of marketing & technology at ASML. 'Our objective of creating a whole product solution for 157nm lithography will require highly accelerated development work in processes, equipment and materials. As the program's membership attests, this is a global, industry-wide effort to ensure a fast ramp up of 157nm technology.'

In addition to this industry-wide program, ASML is also involved in another European research activity in 157nm lithography, which was recently approved by the board of directors of Micro-Electronics Development for European Applications. Participants in this group effort include companies from Germany, France, Belgium and The Netherlands.
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