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True or false? Test your knowledge about ZEISS SMT and find out how we drive worldwide digitalization forward with our technologies and solutions for the semiconductor industry.


How familiar are you with the technologies used to manufacture the most advanced microchips?

EUV technology in the semiconductor industry enters the next generation with High-NA-EUV lithography
  • True. Many people know ZEISS primarily from microscopy and eyeglass lenses. This is where the company began as a workshop for precision mechanics and optical instruments specializing in microscopes in 1846. Today, ZEISS is a global portfolio company and technology leader with four segments that operate in different industries. In addition to the end customer business with eyeglass and binoculars as well as movie and camera lenses, ZEISS is driving medical progress with its medical technology solutions and supporting the industry with its innovative measuring technologies to ensure quality and precision. The Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology (SMT) segment is shaping the age of microelectronics and nanoelectronics through semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Thanks to optical lithography systems from ZEISS, microchips are becoming increasingly smaller, more powerful and more energy-efficient.

  • False. The SMT semiconductor segment manufactures optical lithography systems that are integrated in lithography machines for microchip production of the Dutch company ASML. ZEISS therefore supplies equipment for semiconductor production but does not manufacture microchips itself. In addition, ZEISS offers products and solutions for the different phases of chip development and production. Our solutions enable the detection, analysis, and repair of defects on the photomask used in the semiconductor manufacturing process, as well as the measurement and optimization of specific mask properties. Process control solutions also enable sample preparation and nanometer-accurate structure and defect detection of semiconductor components.

  • True. However, only partially. ZEISS SMT is headquartered in Oberkochen, Germany. Also, the segment is represented at other German and international sites for production, R&D, as well as sales and service, e.g. in the largest sites Jena, Wetzlar, Rossdorf, Bar Lev (Israel), Danvers and Dublin (USA).

  • True. Researchers and visionaries at ZEISS and other companies laid the foundations for EUV lithography 25 years ago. Together with its development partners, ZEISS has worked hard to help this technology achieve a breakthrough. These partners include TRUMPF, for instance. This company, headquartered in south-west Germany, manufactures the world's most powerful pulsed industrial laser required for EUV. The Fraunhofer Institute co-developed the reflective coating of the EUV mirrors. The Dutch company ASML is responsible for the overall system and assembles the individual elements into the world's most complex production facility. ASML is the world's only supplier of EUV lithography systems and works with around 1,200 partners in a development alliance. In 2020, the team of TRUMPF, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering (IOF) and ZEISS – representing the entire research association – was awarded the German Future Prize by the German President

  • True. Together with our strategic partner ASML and TRUMPF, ZEISS is the global market leader in EUV technology. EUV stands for extreme ultraviolet light. With a wavelength of just 13.5 nanometers, structures can be created that are a tiny 15 nanometers in size – 5,000 times finer than a human hair. The microchips produced with this technology are not only more compact and more powerful overall – they also consume around 30 percent less energy than the latest generation of chips. ZEISS has secured this technology with more than 2,000 patents.

  • True. While EUV lithography uses mirrors, DUV lithography (deep ultraviolet) uses mainly lenses that guide the light through the wafer scanner for microchip exposure. Depending on the wavelength of the light used, different fine structures can be realized on the wafer. For example, ZEISS DUV optics that work with a wavelength of 365 nanometers can enable structures of 220 nanometers. In addition, DUV systems operating with wavelengths of 248 or even 193 nanometers are also used. They enable the realization of extremely fine structures of 55 nanometers, even 40 nanometers using immersion technology. For comparison, the human eye can detect wavelengths ranging from around 380 to 780 nanometers.

  • False. Around 80 percent of all microchips worldwide are manufactured using optics from ZEISS. DUV technology is used to produce the majority of commercially available microchips. It enables chip manufacturers worldwide to expose wafers with nanometer precision – in the range of "deep ultraviolet light" (DUV light) with wavelengths of 365, 248 and 193 nanometers. To produce high-performance chips (e.g. for graphics cards, applications of artificial intelligence or high-end smartphones), light with a wavelength of 13.5 nanometers is used – the so-called EUV light (extreme ultraviolet). However, not exclusively, as individual microchip layers are exposed to DUV light as well. EUV and DUV lithography are thus combined in the manufacturing process of these high-performance chips. Therefore, a replacement of DUV lithography is currently not in sight. ZEISS continually develops further both technologies to enable chip manufacturers worldwide in producing even more powerful microchips.

  • True. Together with its partner network, ZEISS SMT is already working on the next EUV generation, High-NA-EUV lithography. With the help of a higher numerical aperture (High-NA) of 0.55 instead of 0.33 and multipatterning, the technology supports the demand for even smaller structures in the semiconductor industry well into the next decade.

  • False. The business with lithography optics for semiconductor manufacturing is an important business unit of ZEISS SMT. However, the product portfolio is much larger: in addition to optical components and modules (no sales in Germany) for lithography lasers, ZEISS SMT also manufactures special microscope lenses for wafer inspection, synchrotron optics and X-ray gratings. Also, ZEISS SMT produces systems for metrology, tuning, qualification, and repair of photomasks, which are key elements in the semiconductor manufacturing process. Additionally, for process control of next generation semiconductor elements ZEISS SMT also offers solutions to its customers. As versatile as the ZEISS SMT product portfolio is, so are its international customers.

  • False. The business unit Semiconductor Mask Solutions (SMS) of ZEISS SMT develops and manufactures machines, that review defects on photomasks and repair it. With them, we enable our customers a flawless production of high-end masks. ZEISS SMT does not provide photomasks itself.

  • False. At ZEISS SMT, there are plenty of scientists and engineers. But, to enable the technologies of tomorrow, ZEISS SMT relies on a diverse team with very different expertise and skills. That is why not only scientists and engineers work here, but also specialists in production, e.g. in (fine) mechanics or optical production, but also in software development, process engineering, electronics and automation technology, R&D and many more, in order to jointly push the limits of what is technologically possible day by day.

A ZEISS SMT employee works on photomask solutions for the semiconductor industry

Career at ZEISS SMT

By the way, ZEISS SMT is continuing to grow in order to meet the needs of the chip industry and to drive the technologies of tomorrow. If you’re also keen to shaping digitalization together with us, join our team.

A portrait picture of Jeannine Rapp
Author Jeannine Rapp Head of Communication & Implementation of Group Initiatives, SMT

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