An employee works in the clean room on the new High-NA-EUV technology from ZEISS Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology
High-NA-EUV Lithography

More light for more details

The next step for EUV lithography

Semiconductor manufacturing for tomorrow

ZEISS Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology (SMT), its strategic partner ASML and more partners have already achieved a technological leap with EUV lithography that will continue Moore´s Law into the second half of this decade and form the basis for more transistors on a microchip. From 2025 onwards, ZEISS SMT will enable the semiconductor industry to realize the next microchip generation with its further development to High-NA-EUV lithography – thus supporting Moore's Law beyond the year 2030. For autonomous driving. For artificial intelligence. For digitalization in our everyday lives.

Extremely ultraviolet, extremely fine

EUV lithography uses extreme ultraviolet light with a wavelength of 13.5 nanometers to image the fine structures on the wafer. Mirrors from ZEISS SMT collect this light and ensure the projection of the photomask onto the wafer. This is how the even more powerful microchips for global digitalization are manufactured, enabling the technologies and innovations of tomorrow.

Always bigger, always smaller

Light from a larger angular range is used to map structures. This means that optical EUV systems are becoming larger and larger. This principle is known for photographic lenses or telescopes in astronomy – and can be found in a similar way in semiconductor manufacturing. The decisive parameter of the angular range is the numerical aperture (NA). The larger the angles from which the optical system picks up light, the finer the details that are displayed.

Larger numerical aperture, larger systems

Established EUV lithography works with a numerical aperture of 0.33. With High-NA-EUV lithography, the NA is 0.55. Because the NA has become larger, the illumination system and projection optics must also be significantly larger. Together with its strategic partner ASML and more than 1,200 network partners, ZEISS SMT has met this challenge.

A ZEISS SMT employee stands in front of a mirror of the High-NA-EUV technology in the clean room

More exposure area, more transistors

High-NA-EUV lithography – the name says it all: the numerical aperture of 0.55 is significantly higher than the one of EUV lithography at 0.33. This also entails new superlatives for the illumination system and projection optics: the light source (including the world´s most powerful pulsed industrial laser) remains the same; with High-NA-EUV lithography, the illumination system weighs around six tons – four times more than before. More than 40,0000 parts of the projection optics for High-NA-EUV lithography weigh around twelve tons to ensure high-precision focusing – seven times the volume and weight of the established EUV lithography.

Profile image of Dr. Peter Kürz

The mirrors of High-NA-EUV lithography are unique in size and precision. Therefore we've developed a completely new system design.

Dr. Peter Kürz

Head of Field of Business High-NA-EUV lithography at ZEISS

Even smaller, even more powerful, even more energy-efficient

With High-NA-EUV lithography, an optical resolution of less than ten nanometers is possible on the microchip – compared to the previous EUV generation, this means around three times more structures on the same area. ZEISS SMT is already working on the technology for even finer structures – to enable chip manufacturers worldwide to produce even smaller, more powerful and more energy-efficient microchips.

The mirror in the cleaning room of the ZEISS Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology

The most precise mirrors in the world

Manufactured to atomic precision and consisting of more than a hundred layers, the mirrors are at the heart of High-NA-EUV technology. Compared to previous EUV lithography mirrors, they are significantly larger – and take around a year to manufacture.

The metrology ZEISS SMT with the entrance to the vacuum chamber in the clean room

150 tons of absolute precision

Let´s do a thought experiment: If the mirrors of High-NA-EUV lithography were to be enlarged to the size of Germany, the measurement technology would need to be able to measure accurately to 100 micrometers. Such measurement technology – precise in the subatomic range – did not exist until now. That is why ZEISS SMT has developed this measurement technology in parallel with High-NA-EUV lithography with its strategic partner ASML, to also be able to verify the quality of the manufactured mirrors.

Profile image of Dr. Thomas Stammler

The measurement technology for the mirrors of High-NA-EUV lithography is the most complex machine ZEISS has ever built. It was only possible thanks to the excellent collaboration with our strategic partner ASML and our network partners.

Dr. Thomas Stammler

Chief Technology Officer ZEISS SMT

Group picture of all participants at the delivery of the projection optics at ZEISS SMT

Thousands of people drive Moore's Law forward

About 1,500 of ZEISS SMT's current workforce of more than 7,500 employees work on High-NA-EUV lithography. This next technology leap is a team effort of ZEISS SMT, the strategic partner ASML and a network of more than 1,200 members. EUV lithography is the product of more than 25 years of development and research, billions of euros of investment by ZEISS SMT and ASML, and funding from the Federal Government of Germany and the European Union for European technological sovereignty. This future technology is secured by more than 2,000 ZEISS patents.

High-NA-EUV technology highlights

High-NA-EUV technology optics from ZEISS SMT: No sales in Germany

  • The product picture of the illumination system of the High-NA-EUV technology

    Illumination System

    EUV light is absorbed by all materials – including air. Therefore, the optics of High-NA-EUV lithography are set up with mirrors and are operated in a vacuum. The mechatronic concept, which holds the mirrors in position with enormous stability, and the integration of the optical system require entirely new concepts. The illumination system of High-NA-EUV lithography consists of more than 25,000 parts and weighs over six tons.

  • The product picture of the technology High-NA - the projection optics.

    Projection optics

    The projection optics, consisting of more than 40,000 parts and weighing twelve tons, enables high-precision focusing – seven times the volume and weight of previous EUV lithography. The even better resolution of High-NA-EUV lithography enables three times more transistors than the previous generation of chips.

  • The vacuum chamber of the measurement technology in the clean room of ZEISS SMT

    Metrology

    The large numerical aperture of the optics for High-NA-EUV lithography requires larger mirror surfaces with even more extreme curvatures and therefore even more precision. ZEISS SMT is setting new standards for metrology with its measuring machines specially developed for the production of optics for High-NA-EUV lithography.

FAQ

  • The High-NA-EUV lithography is the further development of EUV lithography. The higher numerical aperture allows structures with less than ten nanometers to be imaged on the microchip. With that, Moore's Law will continue beyond 2030.

  • High-NA-EUV lithography is the further development of the EUV lithography process. At 0.55, the numerical aperture (NA) for High-NA-EUV lithography is significantly larger than the previous EUV generation's 0.33. Because light from a wider angular range can thus be used for imaging. High-NA-EUV lithography can image up to three times more structures on a microchip. However, the larger NA also means that the projection optics and illumination system are significantly larger than in the established EUV system.

     

  • Currently, a chip manufacturer is planning to use the machine with High-NA-EUV lithography in series production starting in 2025. ASML is the only manufacturer of EUV lithography machines worldwide. As a strategic partner, ZEISS SMT exclusively supplies the optics for these machines.

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