Extreme Ultraviolet lithography was originally expected to be implemented at the 22nm node, which is where Intel’s is at the moment, but much points to the fact that it will not be ready for another couple of generations even though lithography supplier ASML is hopeful. The news comes from Eric Meurice, ASML’s president, chairman and CEO, who broke the news alongside the third quarter results that were much as expected.
EUV works in theory, but it is much too slow for commercial applications. You can typically produce around 10 wafers an hour with EUV whereas traditional or deep immersion lithography can deliver upwards of 200 wafers an hour.
The problem is getting a strong enough power source for the EUV application.
ASML hopes to be able to get up to 15 wafers an hour next year, but it is still a far cry from the 80 wafers an hour that many consider the absolute minimum in order to justify investment in the equipment.
In the meantime smaller nodes get more expensive and more difficult to manufacture in traditional lithography as you need several passes – also known as multi-patterning. Sometimes you may need four or five passes for the very small features.
We are all hoping that EUV will soon go mainstream, but we are not holding our breath and industry is getting ready with contingency plans including multi-patterning.S|A
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