Power source problem solved for EUV

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Extreme ultraviolet lithography – or EUV – has been regarded as the saviour of semiconductor manufacturing for more than a decade. Originally intended to be deployed at the 32nm node, the technology has been delayed by the inability to generate the required power level that would enable the wafer throughput demanded by manufacturers. Now, the earliest that EUV is likely to be deployed is at the 7nm node.

But progress is being made. At Semicon West, held recently in the US, ASML – the leading developer of EUV lithography – announced the demonstration of a 250W EUV source. It is believed that a 250W source could enable 125 wafers to be handled an hour.

As part of its latest financial statement, ASML said it had integrated an upgraded EUV source into its NXE:3400B lithography system and achieved the throughput specification of 125 wafers per hour. ‘Now, with all key performance specifications demonstrated’, it noted, ‘we’ll focus on achieving the availability that is required for high-volume manufacturing as well as further improving productivity’.

According to the company, it received orders for another eight EUV machines in the last quarter, taking its backlog to 27 systems worth €2.8billion. The eight latest orders – one company has ordered six systems – were said by ASML to ‘underscore that adoption for high volume manufacturing has reached an inflection point’.

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