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November 10, 1997updated 03 Sep 2016 6:47pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Bell Laboratories, the research and development arm of US semiconductor and communications equipment giant Lucent Technologies Inc, claims to be closer to the commercialization of its electron beam lithography process, for manufacturing smaller, faster and more powerful microchips. It says it has now demonstrated proof of concept by printing a stripe of features on a chip aligned to within 0.05 microns, and repeated the process on the same chip – so called step and scan lithography – generating a centimeter square of transistors. The accuracy of placing transistors is as important as their size since it enables more to be packed onto each chip. Bell says that this demonstration is the next step in the development process and proves that the system can be used commercially. Lucent is now aiming to improve the system by upping the accuracy of the stripe alignment from 0.05 to 0.01 micron and increasing the speed and volume of production. Lucent has already used the Scalpel system to produce 0.08 micron transistors last year (CI No 2,959). The electron beam process is one of the lithography technologies chip manufacturers are developing to take over from optical lithography, which has a technical limit of 0.13 microns. Other processes include Extreme Ultraviolet – so called ‘soft X-rays’ – and X-rays. The Scalpel project is one of the efforts being sponsored by the US chip research and development organization Semiconductor Manufacturing Consortium (Sematech). The other Sematech sponsored next generation chip effort is a venture of Intel Corp, AMD Inc and Motorola Inc for the development of Extreme Ultraviolet (CI No 3,245). The Japanese chipmakers, NEC Corp, Toshiba Corp, Fujitsu Ltd, Mitsubishi Electric Corp and Hitachi Ltd are collaborating with NTT Advanced Technology Corp on the use of X-rays to produce 0.07 micron circuits.

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