Last week Toshiba and SK hynix announced an agreement to jointly develop Nano Imprint Lithography (NIL), building on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that two companies signed in December last year. Development efforts will begin this April and practical adoption is expected to start in 2017. The collaboration is expected to reduce risk and accelerate commercialization of this technology.
NIL is expected to produce next-generation lithography at high throughput rates more economically than established lithography tools. It is should compete against Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, an alternative technology whose use has been delayed by numerous technical challenges. EUV, a euphemism for X-Rays, cannot use transmissive optics like glass lenses, so a completely new reflective imaging technology has had to be developed to support its use. The advantage of EUV is that the light wavelength is only 13nm, which is an order of magnitude smaller than the 193nm light currently used to produce leading-edge chips, allowing it to print significantly smaller features.
Unlike today’s lithography, which uses a purely photographic process, NIL mechanically stamps a pattern into the photoresist in a similar manner to the sealing wax stamp shown in the photo (courtesy of BackToZero, a wax stamp maker). The stamp is produced using Continue reading
The graphic for this post (click to enlarge), supplied by ASML, the semiconductor industry’s leading lithography tool supplier, illustrates the challenge of migrating from one process node to the next. Across the bottom, on the X-axis, are representative process nodes ranging from “2D-45”, or two-dimensional (planar) 45nm NAND, to “3D-5x”, or three-dimensional 5xnm NAND. Below these numbers are the year of volume production.
The vertical axis, labeled “Tolerance” represents the minimum Continue reading
A very unusual side effect of the move to 3D NAND will be the impact on the equipment market. 3D NAND takes the pressure off of lithographic steps and focuses more attention on deposition and etch. The reason for going to 3D is that it provides a path to higher density memories without requiring lithographic shrinks.
This sounds like bad news for stepper makers like ASML, Canon, and Nikon while it should be a boon to deposition and etch equipment makers like Applied Materials, Tokyo Electron, and Lam Research.
In its summer 2013 V-NAND announcement, Samsung explained that it would be Continue reading
Naturally, The Memory Guy fixated on those presentations that dealt with memory. When it came to the upcoming transition to 3D NAND, AMAT had a lot to say.
A later post will explain what 3D NAND actually is. Suffice it to say that today’s approach to making NAND flash has nearly reached its limit, and the approach that manufacturers plan to use in the future involves making NAND strings that stand on their ends. This has phenomenal implications on Continue reading