E-beam supplier Vistec, along with semiconductor research group CEA/Leti, and emerging design and software company D2S, today announced a collaboration focused on refining and validating advanced design-for-e-beam (DFEB) solutions for the 45- and 32-nm nodes. Over the next 12 months, CEA/Leti will manufacture test chips using a combination of D2S' advanced DFEB design and software capabilities and latest high-resolution e-beam direct-write (EbDW) lithography equipment from Vistec. The goal of this collaboration is to print 45- and 32-nm circuits using Vistec Electron Beam's SB3054 system installed at CEA/Leti.
High speed, low cost
Driving the need for this joint effort is the ever-rising cost of semiconductor masks, which is making low-volume production of custom ICs economically infeasible. Using an e-beam tool to directly write patterns onto a wafer has always been the most accurate way to pattern a semiconductor wafer; however, low throughput using a traditional variable shaped beam (VSB) approach has limited its application. By efficiently employing character or cell projection (CP) technology to re-write the throughput rules around EbDW, the DFEB solution virtually eliminates the cost of masks and can speed time to market by shortening the design-to-lithography process flow.
D2S' proprietary DFEB solution encourages and isolates the most commonly recurring patterns of chip designs and translates them into templates on “mini-reticles”. A prepared set of templates on a mini-reticle then allows these complex patterns to be replicated in a single shot on a wafer. This is accomplished using Vistec's SB3054 tool utilizing CP technology. By reducing a design's required shot count, this approach improves throughput over VSB while enhancing accuracy.
Solutions for a new production paradigm
“Ever increasing mask costs are presenting numerous challenges in the semiconductor industry”, said Aki Fujimura, founder and chief executive officer of D2S. “Combining EbDW with CP provides a low-risk, low-cost path to a new production paradigm. Producers of high value, low-volume devices will be the beneficiaries of this joint effort to validate direct-write-e-beam solutions at leading edge technology nodes—thanks in part to our DFEB ecosystem partners, CEA/Leti and Vistec”.
Laurent Pain, lithography laboratory manager at CEA/Leti, stated, “DFEB is an innovative, new approach to the old problem of boosting e-beam throughput while enhancing accuracy. We are looking forward to this collaboration to validate accuracy and throughput goals at the 45- and 32-nm nodes using the Vistec SB3054 system in tandem with D2S' advanced DFEB solution.”
“We see the integrated CP functionality and DFEB software as a bridge between the high-resolution requirements of advanced R&D and the challenging throughput expectations driven by industrial prototyping applications,” said Wolfgang Dorl, general manager at Vistec Electron Beam. “The CP feature is available today from Vistec and was recently installed at CEA/Leti to enable this collaboration and research.”