August 18, 2009

New nanolithography being developed

U.S. scientists say they're using a fusion-energy research method to create extremely thin plasma beams for a new class of nanolithography.

The Purdue University researchers say a new class of nanolithography is needed to make future computer chips

We can't make devices much smaller using conventional lithography, so we have to find ways of creating beams having more narrow wavelengths, said Professor Ahmed Hassanein.

He said the new plasma-based lithography under development generates extreme ultraviolet light having a wavelength of 13.5 nanometers -- less than one-tenth the size of current lithography.

Scientists at Purdue and the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory are working to improve the efficiency of two techniques used to produce the plasma: One approach uses a laser and the other discharge-produced method uses an electric current.

In either case, only about 1 to 2 percent of the energy spent is converted into plasma, Hassanein said. That conversion efficiency means you'd need greater than 100 kilowatts of power for this lithography, which poses all sorts of engineering problems. We are involved in optimizing conversion efficiency -- reducing the energy requirements -- and solving various design problems for the next-generation lithography.

The research is scheduled for publication in the October-December issue of the Journal of Micro/Nanolithography, MEMS, and MOEMS.