Extreme ultraviolet to push microchips down to 14nm in size

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Microchips made with the help of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light could be the outcome of a three-year EUV lithography project that has just started with 7 million euros of German government funding.

The objective of the joint project is to improve the resolution that can be achieved with EUV lithography to at least 14nm. Production technology using EUV will be ready at the end of the year, but that will only be able to make structures as small as 20nm. According to project leader and optics specialist company Carl Zeiss, the ongoing miniaturisation of structures increases the performance of microchips and helps reduce the costs of electronic devices.

Dr Andreas Dorsel, management board member of Carl Zeiss, said: ‘We see EUV technology as the key to the microelectronics of tomorrow. The project unites proven experts who will now take EUV to the next level.’

Six other German companies and research institutes are involved in the project. Bestec in Berlin is developing machine concepts for a new generation of reflectometers to measure the EUV reflectivity of large mirror surfaces; the Institute for Technical Optics at the University Stuttgart is developing and testing flexible setting measuring technology for mirrors; IMS CHIPS in Stuttgart is contributing powerful optical components; while the Fraunhofer institutes for Electron Beam and Plasma Technology in Dresden, for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering in Jena, and for Material and Beam Technology, also in Dresden, are providing scientific-technical services to further improve the surface quality of reflective optical components.