Canon aims to start shipping nanoimprint lithography (NIL) tools as early as this year, a top executive of the Japanese firm told the Financial Times. “We want to do it while the market is hot,” the head of Canon’s industrial group said, referring to the expected upswing in the semiconductor market by the end of the year.
In October last year, Canon unveiled plans to wrestle market share from ASML. NIL technology was once considered to be a potential successor to immersion lithography, but due to concerns about defectivity, overlay control and throughput, the industry threw its weight behind EUV. After another decade of development, it’s not clear to what extent Canon has addressed the issues.
Canon is marketing NIL as an alternative to EUV, although it acknowledges the challenges of breaking into the market of advanced semiconductor manufacturing. “Since the existing chip manufacturing processes are optimized for EUV, there will obviously be various difficulties in terms of bringing in new technology.” NIL tools will be available for trial periods, allowing customers to probe their capabilities.