Around 60 participants attended the third ZEISS European Autumn School which was held online in October 2021. The topics at the digital event primarily centered around the current state of EUV technology as well as an exchange between researchers and users, and between instructors and learners.

Autumn school 2021 view of the audience

Hightech for people

ZEISS is the technology leader in lithography optics. As such, the company shares its expertise and experience with researchers, industrial users and last but not least, with young academics as well. This exchange benefits everyone involved, as demonstrated by the Autumn School. ZEISS presents itself to the market during this event, and in return, the participants learn a lot about new technologies and a potential employer. Several individuals who previously attended are now working at ZEISS Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology (SMT). In this way, the Autumn School also helps SMT to continue growing by bringing talented team members onboard.

Leading by example

Like last year, the third European Autumn School was a digital event – a format which definitely has its advantages and disadvantages. The School didn’t have the limitations that come with an in-person event, so around 60 participants were able to gain fascinating, multimedia insights into the world of lithography optics. In terms of the topics covered, ZEISS offered a broad spectrum with an agenda ranging from basic information about lithography optics through to the latest results of research in individual specialist fields of optics. Virtual attendees had the opportunity to choose individual focal points from the program during the two days of the event. Interactive communication channels provided the best possible replacement for direct, in-person contact. This allowed the participants to enter into a direct exchange with the speakers, ask questions and discuss various topics in the chat.

View of expert lecture at the Autumn School 2021

Expert talks on lithography

Dr. Gerhard Döll, who oversees funding projects at ZEISS SMT, kicked off and moderated the two-day online event. I had the opportunity to start off the series of talks with a presentation looking at ZEISS in general and the Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology segment in particular. This was followed by the online seminars, of which there were three on each day. Two leading experts got things started, with Bernd Geh, Senior Principal at ZEISS SMT, first explaining how photolithography is a key element for micro and nanoelectronics. His talk is available for download here.

He was then followed by Dr. Jörg Petschulat, Head Global R&D of the Semiconductor Mask Solutions strategic business unit. Dr. Petschulat presented the process involved in producing photomasks and mask qualification as well as discussing the challenges the photomasks industry is facing. Program Systems Engineer Dr. Wolfgang Emer brought the first day to a close with his talk on the basic principles of DUV lithography (deep ultraviolet). His presentation focused on projection optics box and illumination systems, the production and qualification process, and integration into scanners.

ZEISS SMT employees in the clean room at the EUV product

A lively discussion

Dr. Sascha Migura was up first on Thursday with a talk that generated a lively discussion on the core questions around extreme ultraviolet lithography. He emphasized the incredible complexity of EUV systems and outlined SMT’s pioneering technical achievements. A video of Dr. Migura’s presentation is available here. Dr. Paul Gräupner offered a glimpse into the future with his talk entitled "High-NA EUV – the Future of Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography Optics." The event’s sixth and final talk was given by Stefan Schulte, Principal Optics Metrology, and offered an insight into SMT measuring technology. He presented the high-precision techniques developed and produced by ZEISS for measuring single lenses and mirrors.

Welcoming guests from across Europe to Oberkochen

The event’s participants came from 24 different countries in all. In this sense, the third ZEISS European Autumn School reflected the significant role that ZEISS’s semiconductor segment plays at the European level. In the same vein, the event was supported by the Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) aimed at promoting the microelectronics industry in Europe. ZEISS is therefore also supporting the European transfer of knowledge in a key digital industry.

Examples of positive feedback

Participants responded very positively to the event: "The spectrum of topics the Autumn School covers makes it a great opportunity for those new to lithography to learn about the field. At the same time, even experienced users can discover something new here," said one attendee. Another added a quick, concise comment: "Great talk with practical example from the industry." And a third had this to say: "The Autumn School was a fantastic opportunity to brush up my knowledge of lithography. I also wanted to find out more about the ZEISS SMT segment in Oberkochen with a view to possibly working here. I’m already looking forward to next time."

And speaking of next time, plans are already underway for the fourth ZEISS European Autumn School – which we hope to organize as an in-person event once more in 2022.

Thomas Stammler
Author Dr. Thomas Stammler Chief Technology Officer

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