SPIE Advanced Lithography Symposium 2021 – day 1

As with the in-person version of this symposium, AL21 began Monday morning with an opening session and two of the three plenary talks.  This was a “live” event, though I think a recording of it will show up in the SPIE Digital Library soon.  The first item of business was the awarding of new SPIE Fellows in the lithography community.  Congratulations to Yi-sha Ku of ITRI in Taiwan, Anna Lio of Intel, John Robinson of KLA, and Mark Somervell of TEL for becoming fellows this year.  The Frits Zernike Microlithography Award went to Bruce Smith of RIT – congratulations for this well-deserved honor.  It is also a bit overdue, due to Bruce’s long-time service as the chair of the Zernike Award committee, which made him ineligible until he left that post.

The Nick Cobb Memorial Scholarship went to Yuka Esashi of the University of Colorado Boulder, who is working on her PhD in Physics on the topic of EUV reflectometry.  I had a chance to talk to Yuka during a virtual student networking event later that evening and I suspect she will be much sought after in the semiconductor industry when she graduates in a couple of years.

After the loss of one of the greats from our community, Bill Arnold, it was appropriate that his friend and colleague Mircea Dusa gave a nice overview of his contributions to our industry and a series of remembrances about his life.  Thank you, Mircea.  Bill will be missed.

The opening remarks ended with an overview of the changes that will come to this symposium next year.  First, the name of the symposium will change from Advanced Lithography (AL) to Advanced Lithography and Patterning to reflect the continued integration of lithography with deposition, etch, and other processes to produce complex patterns.  The biggest change will be the merging of the optical and EUV lithography conferences into the “Optical/EUV Nanolithography and Practices” conference, reflecting the emergence of EUV as a manufacturing technology.  The computational lithography pieces of the old Optical Lithography conference will now go to the renamed “DTCO and Computational Patterning” conference.  There have also been a few smaller changes to the scopes and names of the other conferences.  The result will be a symposium with six conferences next year, rather than the seven we have this year.

As Michael Mayberry of Intel began his plenary talk, I quickly realized one of the major downsides of a virtual conference.  It seems that none of my regular work meetings for the week have been cancelled.  How did that happen?  I had to leave Mike’s talk just as he was getting started.  Eventually, I believe that this plenary will be available on the SPIE Digital Library so I can finish watching it, but not yet.

I did see John Hu of NVIDIA give his plenary on trends in high performance computing.  While I enjoyed the talk in general, I have two specific complaints that can’t go unmentioned.  First, as an example of the power of GPU rendering he showed a clip of a digital supermodel walking around in a bathing suit.  This is obviously inappropriate for a technical conference, especially one in a male-dominated industry like ours.  Second, at the end of his talk, he described the goal to “create a virtual world better than real”.  Really?  First of all, I don’t think that could ever happen.  But if it ever did that only means we should stop working on creating better virtual worlds and focus on improving the real one.  Time to pick a better goal.

I also began the process of working my way through the many interesting technical talks (viewable on demand).  I’ll have more to say about what I am learning from them in a subsequent post, but let’s just say I’m a fan of 1.5X speed.

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