Lithography Celebrates 25 Years on the Cutting Edge

Applied Materials recently hosted a panel discussion with several distinguished semiconductor industry speakers as part of the SPIE Advanced Lithography conference earlier this month, which I had the honor of moderating. The panel discussion, a retrospective look at the 25 years of technology developments in metrology, inspection and process control was co-hosted by Chris Raymond, technology director at Nanometrics, Inc. and Chair of the SPIE Conference.

The panelists included (Left to right):

  • Byoung-Ho Lee, principal engineer, Samsung Electronics
  • Martha Sanchez, advisory engineer/scientist, IBM
  • John Sturtevant, director RET technical support, Mentor Graphics
  • Mircea Susa, Fellow, ASML

Each of the panelists shared an interesting viewpoint on the history of metrology, inspection and process control. Mircea presented excerpts from a 1979 paper by Holger Moritz on “High-Resolution Lithography with Projection Printing” The paper stated that what is important is not so much the resolution limit of the lithography tool as the control of its focus exposure and other parameters. Now, 25 years later, this is still what we in the metrology industry try to improve every day in the lab! An audience member commented on the price of lithography tools 25 years ago, which increased substantially compared with tomorrow’s EUV scanners, and how CD SEM prices in contrast have relatively remained almost the same.

Byoung-Ho’s talk was much more forward looking, giving guidance on the various challenges, technologies and applications coming down the pipeline—all of which will once again stretch the limits of lithography technology and spur fresh innovation.

With more than 300 audience members, our event was very well attended and engaging. During the interactive portion of the session, we polled audience members to test their knowledge of fun trivia and industry acronyms. We also presented questions addressing hotly-debated issues such as the indisputable extendibility of CD SEM metrology as an industry workhorse, and the likelihood of new technology adoption, such as 3D chips. What do you think comes next for lithography? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

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