During SEMICON West 2011, SEMATECH announced the world's first 450mm imprinted wafer, accomplished by EV Group (EVG). In an interview, Markus Wimplinger, corporate technology development and IP director at EVG, described the timeline for the 450mm effort and how the company decided to make a strategic move—one that was not so much based on getting a check for the right amount.
|Metrology of imprinted features. (Source: EV Group)|
The company used its SMS-NIL technology (aka soft molecular-scale nanoimprint lithography) to imprint the wafer. "It was beneficial because it's very compliant and could also accommodate the limited wafer quality available at 450mm at that point in time," said Wimplinger. The company imprinted 35nm lines and spaces, but has demonstrated "capability down to 12.5nm lines and spaces on smaller substrates," he noted.
For the company, the effort was a strategic business decision. The company's primary focus for its 2nd-generation stepper was 300mm, "but we had already designed some 450mm capability, so we had the system available; we had the platform that could do it," said Wimplinger.
The timeline for 450mm insertion differs for different players, Wimplinger thinks HVM will be 2015-2017. And while nanoimprint is a back-up plan if EUV lithography is not ready, the industry can probably squeeze one more node out of immersion lithography, he said. — D.V.