has been the heart of the world's technology boom for nearly half a century, but
microprocessor manufacturers have all but squeezed the life out of it. The current
technology used to make microprocessors will begin to reach its limit around 2005.
At that time, chipmakers will have to look to other technologies to cram more
transistors onto silicon to create more powerful chips. Many are already looking
at extreme-ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) as a way to extend the life of silicon
at least until the end of the decade.
successors to optical projection lithography are being aggressively developed.
These are known as "Next-Generation Lithographies" (NGL's). EUV lithography
(EUVL) is one of the leading NGL technologies; others include x-ray lithography,
ion-beam projection lithography, and electron-beam projection lithography. Using
extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) light to carve transistors in silicon wafers will lead
to microprocessors that are up to 100 times faster than today's most powerful
chips, and to memory chips with similar increases in storage capacity.
Extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) is an advanced technology for making microprocessors
a hundred times more powerful than those made today.
EUVL is one technology vying to replace the optical lithography used to make today's
microcircuits. It works by burning intense beams of ultraviolet light that are
reflected from a circuit design pattern into a silicon wafer. EUVL is similar
to optical lithography in which light is refracted through camera lenses onto
the wafer. However, extreme ultraviolet light, operating at a different wavelength,
has different properties and must be reflected from mirrors rather than refracted
through lenses. The challenge is to build mirrors perfect enough to reflect the
light with sufficient precision
We know that Ultraviolet radiations are very shortwave (very low wavelength) with
high energy. If we further reduce the wavelength it becomes Extreme Ultraviolet
radiation. Current lithography techniques have been pushed just about as far as
they can go. They use light in the deep ultraviolet range- at about 248-nanometer
wavelengths-to print 150- to 120-nanometer-size features on a chip. (A nanometer
is a billionth of a meter.) In the next half dozen years, manufacturers plan to
make chips with features measuring from 100 to 70 nanometers, using deep ultraviolet
light of 193- and 157-nanometer wavelengths. Beyond that point, smaller features
require wavelengths in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) range. Light at these wavelengths
is absorbed instead of transmitted by conventional lenses
Computers have become much more compact and increasingly powerful largely because
of lithography, a basically photographic process that allows more and more features
to be crammed onto a computer chip.
is akin to photography in that it uses light to transfer images onto a substrate.
Light is directed onto a mask-a sort of stencil of an integrated circuit pattern-and
the image of that pattern is then projected onto a semiconductor wafer covered
with light-sensitive photoresist. Creating circuits with smaller and smaller features
has required using shorter and shorter wavelengths of light.
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