The latest generation of EUV lithography systems weighs over 180 tons, comprises more than one hundred thousand separate parts and is held together by tens of thousands of screws. On top of this, there are over a thousand different cables, several hundred meters of hose lines, and the centerpiece of the system: The EUV mirrors. When in operation, this system produces high-performance microchips that house more than 57 billion transistors in a few square-centimeters.
But only if all parts, screws, cables, and, most importantly, the mirrors, are perfectly coordinated and functioning precisely how they should. A Herculean task. A task that was pretty much made for Camila: As a Development Engineer, she tests the interaction between optical components in EUV systems – a key role in global digitalization. Ultimately, these kinds of EUV systems are used to make state-of-the-art microchips by exposing photoresist-coated silicon disks with EUV (extreme ultraviolet) light in a wavelength of precisely 13.5 nanometers. This creates semiconductor nanostructures 5,000 times finer than a human hair.
“I have always been fascinated by the way in which complex machines work, when there are parts moving and interlocking. After figuring out the clocks and kitchen appliances at home as a child, the next logical step was to study mechanical engineering.” Camila graduated from the Universidade Federal do Paraná in Curitiba, Brazil with honors and completed her Master of Science at the University of Stuttgart in 2018, where she specialized in mechatronics.
Camila first made contacts at ZEISS during her studies. “It was great! I was able to learn about how an industrial enterprise functioned alongside my studies. During this time, I saw the Development division, laboratories, and various production lines. Needless to say, I asked questions. Lots of questions!” Camila laughs as she reminisces. During this stage in her studies, she focused on security systems for robots. And she accomplished so much that she was offered a job before she even graduated. Camila has been working as a Development Engineer in Mechatronics and Qualification in a team of 17 at the ZEISS Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology segment since March 2021.
The team is responsible for developing dynamic qualification in the integration of projection optics. Or, more simply put: Camila and her colleagues assess the functionality of EUV optics. They are handed pre-assembled modules containing mirrors, actuators, and sensors from various manufacturing departments. They then test the interaction between all elements. The mirrors are moved in a specific way, and the resulting signal values are compared to reference values.
“I'm the newbie in the team, but they actively involved me from the start. I was given my first job to do on my own in my second week – I had to develop a graphical user interface that could display the mirror's exact position and temperature. The GUI also needed to be able to send commands to the mirror and change various parameters.”
Camila mainly works in the back office, but she sometimes goes to Manufacturing and the clean room. This is a unique experience: "Data are translated into reality here. I can directly see and experience in what way my work is important. And how many other people are working on the same project with me. Time and time again, I'm impressed by how complex the build is – how so many cables, cooling lines, and sensors fit into such a small space.”
From Brazil to Germany, from the lecture hall to the high-tech clean room – Camila has had an epic journey. What advice does she have for the students of today? “Be curious! Take an interest in everything around you. Question and research. The things you least expect now may turn out to be the most important later. Remain driven in your research – but also take the time to go out, meet friends, and have fun. Otherwise your passion for high-tech may dwindle.”