ASML history files

Young ASML had electrons on its roadmap

René Raaijmakers
Reading time: 5 minutes

In its early days, ASML was convinced that optical litho would only last for another decade. It seriously considered investing in next-generation lithography and even sold direct-write systems.

This week at the online SPIE Advanced Lithography symposium, ASML’s Jos Benschop made it clear that optics will continue to advance chip manufacturing at least until 2030. His developers are now working on high-NA EUV and he even talked about hyper-NA. Nine more years of cost reduction in IC production, that will add up to a breathtaking half-century of exponential growth – in hardware, not in software.

It’s also a fifty-year adventure in optics. What’s currently known as EUV was called soft X-ray in the mid-1990s, but the semicon industry labeled it “extreme ultraviolet” because that sounded more acceptable. Still, you could manipulate it with optics, although the multilayer mirrors for masks and the light path made it extremely complicated.

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