Interest in Canon’s nanoimprint lithography (NIL) chipmaking tools is “exceeding expectations,” an executive of the Japanese equipment manufacturer told reporters. “There has been a bigger response than we expected,” said Minoru Asada, head of Canon’s finance and accounting headquarters, without revealing projected sales figures.
In October, 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 these 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,” the company said earlier. However, 3D-NAND manufacturing, which won’t adopt EUV in the near term, seems a good point of entry for NIL into the semiconductor space.
NIL tools will be available for trial periods, allowing customers to probe their capabilities.