Canvas Category Machinery : Special Purpose : Semiconductor
ASML is an innovation leader in the semiconductor industry. We manufacture complex lithography systems critical to the production of microchips, unlocking the potential of people and society by pushing technology to new limits.
ASML Shows Off $380 Million, 165-Ton Machine Behind AI Shift
ASML Holding NV is showing off its latest chipmaking machine, a €350 million ($380 million) piece of equipment that weighs as much as two Airbus A320s. The machine can print lines on semiconductors 8 nanometers thick, 1.7 times smaller than the previous generation. The thinner the lines, the more transistors you can fit on a chip. And the more transistors you can fit on a chip, the higher the processing speeds and memory. That’s why, ASML executives said, the system will prove essential for AI, a technology that is notorious for the intensity of the processing it requires.
How an ASML Lithography Machine Moves a Wafer
How immersion lithography saved Moore’s Law
In December 2001, ASML researcher Jan Mulkens (now an ASML Fellow) attended an industry conference on 157-nanometer lithography in the United States where industry professionals came together to identify potential next steps. Their discussion honed in on adding a layer of purified water under the lens to sharpen the resolution, an optical phenomenon first discovered and harnessed by microscope pioneers Robert Hooke and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, and first described for use in lithography by IBM in the 1980s. Jan and his colleagues realized that this optical technique could extend 193-nanometer lithography further, bypassing the industry’s burning challenge of trying to fix 157-nanometer lithography. Furthermore, by using water as the optical fluid, all of the existing optics, masks and photoresists could continue to be used. This was the best chance to keep Moore’s Law going.
“Projecting light through highly purified water would allow significantly smaller chip features to be printed, because the liquid allows the design of an optical lens that more accurately images the fine patterns on the wafer,” explains Jan. “But when we first started thinking about using this principle in a lithography machine, people found it odd. Water was associated with splashes, droplets and bubbles – would that really work in a complex and highly accurate imaging system?” Introducing water into the system that might not flow safely and securely through a hose appeared to be an impossible task.
Imec and ASML sign Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to support semiconductor research and sustainable innovation in Europe
Imec, a leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, and ASML Holding N.V. (ASML), a leading supplier to the semiconductor industry, today announce that they intend to intensify their collaboration in the next phase of developing a state-of-the-art high-numerical aperture (High-NA) extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography pilot line at imec.
The pilot line is intended to help the industries using semiconductor technologies to understand the opportunities that advanced semiconductor technology can bring and have access to a prototyping platform that will support their innovations. The collaboration between imec, ASML and other partners will enable the exploration of novel semiconductor applications, the potential development of sustainable, leading-edge manufacturing solutions for chip makers and end users, as well as the development of advanced holistic patterning flows in collaboration with the equipment and material ecosystem.
⛓️ ASML says decoupling chip supply chain is practically impossible
“We do not believe in ASML that decoupling is possible. We believe this will be extremely difficult and extremely expensive,” Fouquet told Nikkei at the company’s headquarters. “It’s a matter of time until people realize that the only way to be successful in semiconductors is through cooperation.” The secret to ASML’s success, according to Fouquet, is its longtime collaboration with critical global suppliers such as Zeiss and Cymer and the support from its top chipmaking customers, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Intel.
The bulk of ASML’s production, meanwhile, is done in one place, its headquarters, and Fouquet said it will likely keep the majority – about 80% to 90% – of its production and integration there until at least 2026. “It’s very important for us to keep R&D and manufacturing together,” the senior executive said.
Why The World Relies On ASML For Machines That Print Chips
The Extreme Engineering of ASML’s EUV Light Source
How ASML Won Lithography (& Why Japan Lost)
Moore’s Law Could Ride EUV for 10 More Years
ASML expects that chip makers ramping up production with the new technology initially will use 0.55 NA for a cost-saving single-expose EUV process for advanced wafer layers, while using multi-pattern 0.33 NA along with older lithography technology for more mature nodes. As the single-expose 0.55 NA technology reaches its limits, somewhere around six years from now, ASML predicts that chipmakers will once again resort to multi-patterning to reach even more advanced nodes with higher transistor densities. In the next few years, ASML’s introduction of 0.55 NA tools will help leading semiconductor foundries like TSMC overcome obstacles they are now encountering at the 3nm chip process technology node.
The Dutch company is the world’s lone supplier of EUV equipment. In 2010, ASML shipped the first prototype EUV tool to an undisclosed Asian customer. Semiconductor production today is divided into the EUV “haves” like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), Samsung and Intel, which make advanced chips for customers like Apple, MediaTek and Qualcomm. The EUV “have not” chip makers years ago threw in the towel at leading nodes, jettisoning the associated multi-billion dollar capital expenditures and focusing on improved profits from legacy production lines and products that benefit little or none from process shrinks.
The $150 Million Machine Keeping Moore’s Law Alive
ASML’s next-generation extreme ultraviolet lithography machines achieve previously unattainable levels of precision, which means chips can keep shrinking for years to come.
ASML introduced the first extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines for mass production in 2017, after decades spent mastering the technique. The machines perform a crucial role in the chipmaking ecosystem, and they have been used in the manufacture of the latest, most advanced chips, including those in new iPhones as well as computers used for artificial intelligence. The company’s next EUV system, a part of which is being built in Wilton, Connecticut, will use a new trick to minimize the wavelength of light it uses—shrinking the size of features on the resulting chips and boosting their performance—more than ever before.
TWINSCAN: 20 years of lithography innovation
“It was limited new technology, but what was a revolution about the TWINSCAN was the swapping of the stages,” says Bert. “Lots of things were normal developments, but that chuck swap was different. We just had to make it work.”
And thus, the TWINSCAN platform was born. TWINSCAN was the first – and is still the only – lithography system platform with two complete wafer table modules (or wafer stages). Wafers are loaded onto the wafer table modules alternately. When the wafer on table one is being exposed, another wafer is loaded on table two and then aligned and mapped. The tables then swap position so that the wafer on table two is exposed while the wafer on table one is unloaded. A new wafer is then loaded, aligned and mapped.