Ondrej is an Optical Metrologist. And at ZEISS in Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology, that is a very challenging job. After all, the most precise mirrors in the world are measured here.
If enlarged to the size of Germany, they would show a maximum deviation of 0.1 millimeter at any random point. This level of precision enables the masks mapped by the optics to be miniaturized so accurately that the mask structures can be written into wafers with nanometer precision. Chip manufacturers use these wafers to produce the latest generation of microchips.
ZEISS partner ASML merges the technology into a complete system: the EUV lithography machine. Among its parts are high-precision optics from ZEISS. School bus sized EUV scanners consist of over 100,000 individual parts. They are among the most complex machines ever built. The illumination unit is a main component of the high-precision optical system. And Ondrej’s current job is to ensure that the extremely tight specifications are met.
From specialists to generalists
Ondrej has worked at ZEISS for eight years—first as a scientific assistant and, since 2018, as a senior scientist on the ZEISS Expert Ladder. With its five-step career path, the Expert Ladder offers experts a satisfactory alternative to the traditional management track. In his first year at ZEISS, Ondrej worked in Component Metrology. He and his team ensured the proper measurement of high-precision mirrors for microchip production there, and also developed individual modules for a highly complex measuring machine.
Today, Ondrej is no longer responsible only for one single area of expertise. Instead, he is a system architect with interdisciplinary responsibility for integrating the optical system’s illumination unit. It’s the career path he aspired to from the very beginning: “I am curious and want to continuously evolve. In smaller companies, you can specialize in a specific area. But in my experience, changing focal areas or positions is difficult. When I interviewed with ZEISS, they told me that I would be able to develop my potential in a variety of directions. And it has always been easy for me to do so.”
I’m sure that more exciting tasks and technical challenges await me at ZEISS.Ondrej, system architect
Precision is teamwork
Together with his team, Ondrej’s current job is to develop the processes, tooling, and measuring machines required to build the illumination system from individual modules. It also has to be calibrated and qualified before delivery to the customer. Finally, the team has to show that each illumination unit meets customer requirements. “The more in-depth your dealings with the complete system, the more related areas open up to you. The mechanical system has an interface with thermal analysis, electronics supplement optics, and mechanical engineering merges with software and control technology,” Ondrej says to illustrate the range of interfaces in his position.
We are constantly pushing the limits of what is technically feasible. The only way to manage that is to work hand in hand.Ondrej, system architect
In Ondrej's team and under his technical management, people from a wide range of areas in Development and Production work on the product. Interdisciplinary teamwork is a condition for their mutual success. “We are constantly pushing the limits of what is technically feasible. The only way to manage that is to work hand in hand. Together, we are gradually pushing the envelope further. The goal isn’t to gain theoretical knowledge. Instead, we are looking for feasible, high-end technical solutions. The microchips that chip manufacturers produce with the help of our optical system enable new electronic components for enhanced medical technology, resource-friendly IT architectures for the energy transformation, and autonomous traffic systems for our mobile future. That is what motivates me.”
Made for humans
Time for the future
What’s next? Ondrej is optimistic: “I’m sure that more exciting tasks and technical challenges await me at ZEISS. As a system architect, I am currently advancing my communication skills and interdisciplinary knowledge. Where is my journey at ZEISS headed? Perhaps a next step up on the Expert Ladder or toward group leadership with personnel responsibility. Together with our partner, we are the world leader in the EUV lithography market. I have lots of freedom here - also for my personal development. I look forward to what the future holds!”