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SEMATECH and Asahi Glass to Commercialize Defect Free EUV Mask Blanks

Published on February 25, 2009 at 6:03 PM

SEMATECH, a global consortium of the world's leading chip manufacturers, today announced that it has entered into a joint development partnership to accelerate mask blank commercialization with Asahi Glass Co. (AGC), a commercial mask blank supplier in Japan. SEMATECH and AGC will collaborate at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) of the University at Albany on methods for improving extreme ultraviolet (EUV) mask blank yield to accelerate commercial manufacturing readiness.

In this latest move toward enabling critical infrastructure for EUV lithography, a team of engineers from AGC has been assigned to SEMATECH's EUV Mask Blank Development Center at CNSE's Albany NanoTech with the goal of reducing defect levels to the 0.003 defects/cm2 at the printable defect size, which is required for manufacturing success. Mask blanks are the starting material used to make the finished mask that contains the device pattern for the lithographic process. Producing defect-free mask blanks in the quantities required for high volume manufacturing is a key technical challenge that must be solved to prepare EUV lithography for cost-effective insertion at the 22 nm half-pitch generation and below.

"SEMATECH and AGC have already shared a great deal of technical success through collaboration over the past several years," said Mitsuhiko Komakine, manager of AGC's EUV Mask Blank Development Group. "AGC is the only vertically integrated EUV blanks manufacturer from Low Thermal Expansion Material (LTEM) synthesis, to EUV mask blanks consisting of LTEM, deposited film, and resist film. Now in this side-by-side working relationship, our AGC team will benefit from accelerated learning as we leverage SEMATECH's integration within the IC industry."

In a cooperative approach to this challenge, SEMATECH's Mask Blank Development Center, one of several major R&D centers within CNSE's Albany NanoTech Complex in Albany, NY, provides access to state-of-the-art mask and lithography tools and materials as well as immediate feedback and assistance from SEMATECH member company assignees working there.

A traditional problem in any technology ramp from the development stage to high volume manufacturing is the time lost in transferring knowledge and experience from group to group. Creating an environment in which both the development team and the commercial supplier learn concurrently is a sure method to maximize transfer speed.

"SEMATECH's incorporation of a commercial supplier within its programs is a highly innovative means to minimize this technology's time to manufacturing readiness," said John Warlaumont, vice president of advanced technologies at SEMATECH. "The industry must have access to high quality EUV mask blanks in order to stay on its timeline for EUV lithography introduction, and especially with Asahi's expertise and new level of engagement, this activity is positioned to deliver."

"We are pleased to welcome Asahi Glass Company as the newest global corporate partner to locate at the UAlbany NanoCollege through the highly successful SEMATECH-CNSE partnership," said Richard Brilla, vice president for strategy, alliances and consortia at CNSE. "The addition of Asahi Glass will further serve the needs of our industrial partners by accelerating the introduction of EUV lithography into manufacturing, enhancing New York's recognition as a global leader in innovative nanotechnology education, research and economic development."

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