For me Sunday is always about teaching. I’ve been teaching at the start of this conference every year since 1990 (except the year I was too sick to leave my hotel room – a rotavirus as it turns out). Alas, my good friend and co-instructor John Petersen was unable to attend the conference at the last minute (responsibilities for his new AttoLab at imec have intervened), so I reverted to my old ways of teaching 8 hours by myself. That is definitely a young person’s calling, though I survived with my feet a little tired and my voice mostly intact. My course’s attendance was about the same as last year, but the biggest course, Introduction to Microlithography, had only about 50% of the registered students show up.
Early indications are that conference attendance will be down about 15% (300 people) compared to last year, with about half of that drop coming from Asia and most of the other half from Intel (only authors and conference chairs have been allowed to come from Intel). I found out that another large company has canceled their hospitality suite – ASML. That leaves a few resist companies, Qoniac, Mentor Graphics, and of course Fractilia carrying on with their evening events (I’m probably missing some in this list). That is definitely enough to have fun every night of the week.
As I await the beginning of the conference, I am anticipating a few things. Developments in Directed Self Assembly (DSA) have been somewhat muted here the last few years, giving conference attendees the possible impression that interest has been waning. But rumors are spreading that several companies are on the verge of high-volume manufacturing with DSA. The quiet seems to be due to commercialization, not lack of interest. I’m not sure that we’ll hear more about those plans this week, but I’ll listening for them.
Finally, I have realized that my personal transition is complete. I no longer call myself a lithographer. I am a metrologist, and I am proud of it. My conference of focus will be the metrology conference, and I find everything about metrology incredibly interesting! I still know how to think like a lithographer, and I still work hard to adopt a stochastic mindset – metrologists must steep themselves in the technology of what they measure. I’ll be following the stochastic conference track wherever it leads me, knowing that without good metrology none of us will have the data needed to make good decisions.