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    Wednesday, December 28, 2022

    Huawei Confirms Breakthrough in EUV Lithography Process Optimization

    Huawei confirmed in a post on its website reports of its breakthrough in manufacturing a light source component used in EUV lithography systems that are needed to manufacture high-end processors at sub-10nm nodes.

    The Chinese tech giant posted a video on its website to back up claims about its breakthrough in EUV lithography. He also claimed to have “entered the game” on his official website.

    Chinese tech outlet MyDrivers cited information on China’s National Intellectual Property Administration website that Huawei Technology filed a patent application covering an EUV lithography process and its key components in mid-November. The patent application number is 202110524685X.

    Huawei’s request has not yet been approved. It is difficult to judge whether Huawei already has the capacity to produce the whole set of EUV equipment.

    Huawei said on its website that the latest patent application shows the use of EUV lithography technology to improve the manufacture of integrated circuits and chipsets.

    “Together, this process will form an interference pattern that will continue to change with new light rays. Therefore, this will even out the light exposure and solve the non-uniform light issues that often occur in chip development” , according to the description on Huawei’s website. .

    In addition to uniform light rays, this mechanism will facilitate the creation and formation of nanoparticles that assemble into integrated circuits or micro-chipsets.

    “Furthermore, lithography mainly performs the transfer, processing and creation of micro-nano graphics. It also checks all the elements equipped in a chipset and verifies the appropriate size and other details in the circuits,” according to Huawei.

    A UDN report indicates that in addition to Huawei, local research institutes in China, such as Tsinghua, have also come up with technologies related to EUV lithography to overcome light source technology barriers, mastering new light sources. that can be used for EUV lithography. The Chinese Academy of Sciences has also mastered the mirror system technology.

    Despite the breakthrough of EUV light source technology, the EUV machine is not easy to manufacture, because there are more than 100,000 components in an EUV machine, requiring the collaboration of a huge supply chain, which is a major hurdle for any country trying to build the equipment from scratch without getting help from other component sources.

    Huawei has been quietly building a domestic semiconductor ecosystem over the past few years as it tries to stave off U.S. tech export sanctions that have barred it from accessing advanced chips. It has invested in a wide range of companies across the semiconductor supply chain, from EDA, equipment and materials to foundry, testing and packaging.

    The technology for which Huawei is applying for a patent tries to solve the problem of uneven light intensity from the light source used in the EUV lithography machine. According to the disclosed information, the patent application proposes a reflector, a lithography device and a control method thereof, which relates to the field of optics and can solve the problem that coherent light cannot be homogenized. due to the formation of a fixed interference pattern. and is optimized based on the lithography device for extreme ultraviolet light, thus achieving the goal of homogenization.

    The UDN report says that while Huawei is developing EUV lithography, it is also developing technologies that “bypass” lithography. For example, it bypasses monopoly American silicon wafer technology in favor of optoelectronic wafers and other practices.

    Interestingly, ASML, the company that is the world’s only EUV equipment supplier, filed a similar patent application (US2016007434A1) in 2016, but has a different scope of patent rights.

    The difference between the two patents is that Huawei uses a rotating lighting device to reduce the number of bright or dark patterns in the same area, while ASML’s patent allows the same beam of light to be split and incident at different points to produce a uniform light. on the relative movable and fixed flat panels and sets of reflectors.

    ASML’s EUV machine uses Cymer’s light source device. Cymer is headquartered in San Diego, California, and was acquired by ASML in 2013.

    It took ASML 17 years to develop the first generation multi-pattern EUV equipment, which so far has only been used by TSMC, Samsung, Micron, Intel and SK Hynix. Currently, China does not have the right to access EUVs, but can import DUVs which are used to produce mature node chips of 28nm and above.

    According to ASML’s website, its EUV technology uses light with a wavelength of 13.5 nm, which is more than 14 times shorter than DUV light.

    The Laser Produced Plasma (LPP) source, droplets of molten tin approximately 25 microns in diameter are ejected from a generator at 70 meters per second. As they fall, the droplets are first hit by a low intensity laser pulse which flattens them into a pancake shape. Then, a more powerful laser pulse vaporizes the flattened droplet to create a plasma that emits EUV light. To produce enough light to make microchips, this process is repeated 50,000 times per second.

    ASML announced on its third quarter 2022 earnings conference call that it will continue to ship DUV lithography equipment to China and increase its production capacity to 90 EUV and 600 DUV systems (2025-2026) and would increase its High-NA EUV capacity to 20 systems (2027-2028).

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