Electron beam lithography systems for advanced research and production
Our systems provide a resolution of less than 10 nm, which allows their use in the most advanced developments. For example, these are highly demanded in microwave electronics, as higher operating frequencies requires smaller functional elements. New research areas such as vacuum solid-state electronics, also requires the use of our equipment. In addition to the electronics industry, electron and ion-beam lithography is used to generate micro-and nanostructures in materials science, photonics, life sciences, plasmonics. For example, our equipment manufactures structures for nanoparticles fabrication, development of photonic components, biosensors, etc. Interesting project, which was also implemented with use of electron beam lithography, was the development of new holographic protective elements for banknotes.
How demanded are the Raith systems in the industry?
Electronics manufacturing plants process thousands of plates per year, so the high performance is especially important to them. Electron beam lithography is focused on medium and small batch, as well as on single-unit production. However, the share of industrial enterprises in total number of installations accounts for about 30%. In particular, the EBPG series satisfies the requirements of industrial production, which includes models for the exposure of wafers with a diameter of 150 and 200 mm.
The first thing to say is the increase in the resolution of exposure. The main problem here is that, although the diameter of the focused electron beam in vacuum is 2 nm or less, in contact with the surface of a solid body, for example, with the resist on wafer, it will be dispersed. This effect leads to an increase in the minimum size of the element to 5–10 nm.
Important trend is obtaining three-dimensional structures and necessity to improve the accuracy of processing elements along the Z-axis. Three-dimensional nanostructures are increasingly demanded in many developments, significant part of which is already commercialized, so we work a lot on improving the accuracy of their production.
The introduction of new materials that replace silicon in semiconductor industry, such as gallium arsenide and gallium nitride, is another challenge for the equipment manufacturers.
Also, the significant trend is the increased use of electron beam lithography to produce the so-called nanowire devices and elements for spintronics.
How do you assess the prospects of multibeam technology?
In my opinion, it will be difficult to bring such equipment to industrial implementation because of its technical complexity and high cost. Many interesting developments in the field of electron beam lithography are known, but only few of them are commercialized and successfully withstood the test of time. In respect of multibeam systems I'm skeptical, but in practice only the choice of semiconductor industry specialists will determine the success or the failure.
What are the main advantages of the Raith equipment?
We are the world's largest manufacturer of electron beam lithography systems using focused beams, therefore, have the most developed and established infrastructure for service support. This is a strategic advantage, because the high-tech equipment needs a high-quality service. It is also important that our technical solutions are based on the R&Ds with more than 40 years of history that were made by Philips and Cambridge Instruments. This scientific and technical basis is an evidence of reliability.
As for the technical specifications, our systems are characterized by an optimal combination of automation, speed and precision. The high resolution combines with high repeatability, which is confirmed in practice by customer’s experience. Many of them before purchasing equipment test solutions from different manufacturers, and our systems have always shown very good results.
How important for you is the Russian market?
In Russia there are more than 20 installations of our equipment. The main customers are the institutes of RAS engaged in basic and applied researches, for example, Institute of Ultra-High Frequency Semiconductor Electronics of RAS where RAITH 150 Two and VOYAGER systems are used. Several systems have been installed in educational institutions, for example at Lomonosov Moscow State University, and in industrial companies. These facts speak for themselves: the Russian market is very important for us and we look forward to further development of cooperation with Russian partners.