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ASML subsidiary extends lifetime of optics inside giant lithography tools


Cymer, a manufacturer of excimer lasers used in semiconductor manufacturing, has announced the first customer installation of its XLR 860ix light source, which is expected to be used in the production of chips at advanced logic and memory nodes.

The XLR 860ix is a deep-ultraviolet (DUV) light source based on an Argon Fluoride excimer laser. The first customer installation was completed this month, and the XLR 860ix was paired up with ASML's latest lithography system, the TWINSCAN NXT:2000i, for which the source was qualified earlier this year.

"The XLR 860ix, through improvements in high-speed controls and redesigned, on-board bandwidth metrology, reduces variations in bandwidth by a factor of two compared to its predecessor. This is an important achievement, since these variations contribute to errors in critical dimension (CD) uniformity, which in turn affects image quality and ultimately manufacturing yields. The improvement in the spectral stability of the light has been verified by our customers using early-access versions of the XLR 860ix, which gives us confidence that this light source will help to improve CD uniformity when used in the production of advanced ICs," said Cymer Vice President Product Marketing Patrick O'Keeffe.

Ahead of the full release of the XLR860ix, Cymer made the key technologies available to customers in an early access program by upgrading existing light sources. Four such upgrades have been completed, and seven additional sources are planned to be upgraded by the end of the year. A total of seven customers are participating in the early access program. In response to strong customer demand, Cymer has rapidly shifted its production capacity to the XLR 860ix model for all future ArF immersion shipments.

"In addition to the early access program, we have also offered one of the key new technologies of the XLR 860ix as an upgrade to previous light source models. This upgrade, which extends the lifetime of the optics and the chamber, increases the time between service intervals by 33%, and thus allows our customers to better utilize their lithography systems and expose thousands of additional wafers per tool, per year. Our customers have aggressively taken advantage of this upgrade, with more than 400 upgrades completed within the past year. The majority of the upgraded systems are exceeding the targeted service intervals," O'Keeffe said.

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