One advantage of the all-online format of this year’s symposium is that the conference can be stretched from the normal four days to five without significant cost impact. This means that several ‘live” events were spread out through Friday, including several very good keynote talks and a second tutorial talk. Jara Garcia Santaclara of ASML spoke on resist development for high-NA EUV lithography. (Jara has what I think is the world’s best job title: EUV Resist & Processing Architect. I love it!) One of the biggest concerns for high-NA EUV imaging is the need for a much thinner resist (20 nm, maybe less), with numerous consequences stemming from that fact. Metal-containing resists are the leading candidates here, since their higher absorption enables thinner resist films. This nice overview talk led well into the second Patterning Materials keynote by Rich Wise of Lam Research. A year ago, Rich introduced a new resist offering by Lam based on a dry-deposited, dry-developed metal-based material that they developed. The early results a year ago looked promising, and the updated results this year look really good. They have made a lot of progress in one year! Could it be that Lam will beat the industry track record of requiring at least one decade to introduce a new resist platform? It looks like Inpria has some competition.
Regina Freed of AMAT gave a nice keynote on etching. I especially liked learning about some of the unique challenges of DRAM manufacturing. The day ended with a very well-done tutorial talk about lithography’s endgame by Ralph Dammel. After a resist-focused history of wavelength transitions (Ralph is a consummate resist chemist, after all), he suggests (perfectly correctly, in my opinion) that 13.5 nm will be our last wavelength. This means that the end of lithography-based scaling is near, and non-scaling-based innovations in chip making (in particular, vertical scaling) will enable a continuation of Moore’s Law in a new way. I couldn’t agree more, though I would add that alternate chip architectures, new materials enabling new types of chip components, and innovations in chip design will probably keep Moore’s Law going for quite a while as well.
All-in-all, this digital forum for Advanced Lithography went better than I expected. Still, I’m looking forward to next year’s in-person version, perhaps with some of the best practices of this year’s version blended in. We shall see.