Paul van Gerven
29 September 2023

Chinese researchers are exploring the use of particle accelerators as EUV light sources. According to a report from the South China Morning Post (SCMP), a team from Tsinghua University has successfully trialed the technology and is now working with authorities to select a construction site for the huge facility, which would eventually feed precious EUV radiation to several lithography stations.

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The SCMP presents the so-called steady-state microbunching (SSMB) technology as a way for China to sidestep export restrictions. And although the source has proven one of the most significant obstacles, commercially viable EUV patterning involves mastering any number of technologies and skills. ASML already mastered many of those even before embarking on its EUV journey, while China’s equipment makers have yet to get the hang of advanced DUV patterning.

ASML at one point also considered free-electron lasers as EUV light sources but abandoned the concept when tin droplet-based ones proved sufficiently scalable. A serendipitous discovery made during the evaluation process has been thoroughly explored as a method to manufacture medical isotopes without using nuclear reactors. Industrialization of that technique, however, proved to be complex and expensive.