Using ASML’s NXE:3400B EUV scanner, Imec and ASML successfully printed 24 nanometer pitch lines in a single exposure. These dimensions correspond to the most demanding metal layers in 3nm chips. The significance of the achievement, however, is primarily for development purposes.
“The innovation will provide the Imec patterning ecosystem with the opportunity to test resist materials and provide process capabilities. The development of sensitive and stable resist materials will support the introduction of ASML’s next-gen EXE:5000 system,” explains Steven Scheer, VP Advanced Patterning Process and Materials at Imec. The EXE:5000 system features a numerical aperture of 0.55, compared to 0.33 for the NXE:3400B.
Although the EXE:5000 won’t be available until 2022, Imec will get started with high-NA patterning and related research later this year. This is accomplished by interference lithography, which essentially simulates true high-NA exposures (link in Dutch).