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5nm chips can be produced without EUV lithography machine, and semiconductor technology has ushered in a major breakthrough

Today, as semiconductor process technology becomes more and more advanced, the requirements for the machinery and equipment for manufacturing chips are also getting higher and higher, so the EUV lithography machine produced by ASML in the Netherlands has become the key production equipment for semiconductor process technology. However, due to the high cost of EUV lithography machine, the price of each set exceeds 100 million US dollars, and the difficulty of manufacturing EUV lithography machine, the production capacity is seriously insufficient and other reasons, so that major chip production companies frantically snatch EUV lithography machine, and if there is a lack of light If the machine is engraved, the production cost of the chip will be greatly increased.

Faced with such a serious problem, Japanese storage manufacturer Kioxia, together with semiconductor equipment factory Canon, photomask and other semiconductor component manufacturers Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP), jointly developed a new NIL process technology, which can The semiconductor process technology can be advanced to 5nm without the use of EUV lithography machine.

It is reported that Kioxia has now mastered the 15nm process mass production technology, and is currently fully engaged in the research and development of 15nm technology, and is expected to further achieve the planned goal in 2025.

Compared with the currently commercialized EUV lithography technology, Kioxia said that the advantage of NIL technology is that it can greatly reduce energy consumption and reduce equipment costs. The reason is that the lithography process of NIL technology is relatively simple, the power consumption can be reduced to 10% of EUV technology, and the equipment investment can be reduced to 40% of EUV equipment only. At present, only the Netherlands ASML can produce and supply high-end EUV lithography machines, which are not only expensive, but also require the cooperation of many testing equipment, and are extremely difficult to produce and have extremely limited production capacity.

However, although NIL technology has many advantages, there are still many problems to be solved in mass production at this stage. The biggest problem is that compared with EUV lithography machine, NIL technology is more prone to fine dust in the air. influences to form defects.

It is reported that for Kioxia, NAND components are easier to adapt to the NIL technology process because of the 3D three-dimensional stacking structure. Kioxia also said that it has successfully solved the basic technical problems of NIL, and is in the process of promoting mass production technology, hoping to be the first to introduce it into NAND production than other competitors. Once Kioxia can successfully take the lead in introducing NIL technology and achieve mass production, it is expected to make up for the unfavorable situation in the equipment investment competition and meet the needs of reducing carbon emissions.

In addition, according to DNP, the NIL mass production technology circuit can be scaled down to the 5nm node, and DNP has been conducting internal simulations based on the specifications of the device since the spring of 2021. For such technological progress, DNP revealed that many semiconductor manufacturers have begun to inquire about NIL mass production technology, which means that many manufacturers have high hopes for NIL technology.

Another partner, Canon, is also committed to widely applying NIL mass production technology to equipment for making logic chips such as DRAM and CPU for PCs, so as to supply more semiconductor manufacturers in the future, and hope to apply it to mobile phones in the future. Application processors and other state-of-the-art processes.

If NIL can be successfully developed in the future, it will definitely be good news for the current semiconductor industry, the production capacity of semiconductor chips will be greatly improved, and it can also greatly alleviate the current global core shortage problem.

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