Extreme Ultraviolet Technology in BetaCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: May 29, 2012 04:58AM
The future of microchips and integrated circuits is in smaller and smaller components, but making these components is becoming increasingly difficult. The current method uses photolithography that burns away material with ultraviolet light. The frequency of the light determines the minimum size of the components, so for things to get smaller we have to get a handle on more extreme frequencies of light, with their smaller wavelengths.
The industry's target wavelength is roughly 13.5 nm, which puts it in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) range, and is considerably smaller than the current 193 nm wavelength systems. To achieve this entirely new light sources have to be developed, which researchers at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft have been working on since 2006, when they built the first EUV prototype. Now the researchers have a beta of their technology already in industrial applications.
The EUV light source uses a laser and electric current to vaporize tin into emitting at the 13.5 nm frequency. The resulting light pulses thousands of times a second. That light then has to be collected and aimed exactly for any components to be made. These other optical components have been made at the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT Aachen, for Material and Beam Technology IWS Dresden and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF Jena. The expectation is for EUV lithography to enter industrial production systems in 2015.