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Nikon Accelerates Development Plans for ArF Immersion

Belmont, Calif., February 19, 2004 – Nikon Corporation announced today that it has accelerated its development plans for ArF immersion and will ship a system with a projection lens NA of greater than or equal to 1.0 in the second half of 2005. Nikon’s previous plan was to market an immersion system with an NA of 0.92 by mid 2005. By accelerating the development of an immersion system with a new ultra high NA lens, Nikon will be the first company in the world to ship a system with a projection lens NA of 1.0 or greater. The system will be used for mass production of 60 nm devices and advanced development of 45 nm devices.

Nikon has been a pioneer in the development of immersion lithography, which can extend ArF exposure technology down to the 45 nm device node. Immersion lithography provides higher resolution and better depth of focus with minimal change to the process. Many semiconductor manufacturers will require immersion lithography for device shrinks below 65 nm.

Nikon started basic development for this technology early on and feasibility studies have been performed jointly with Tokyo Electron (TEL) since June, 2003. As a result of these activities, no bottlenecks preventing the realization of ArF immersion exposure were identified. It was consequently decided to move the technology to the development stage in December of 2003. Nikon’s newly accelerated schedule is shown below.

Nikon’s Product Introduction Schedule

2004Begin customer demonstrations and evaluations on engineering system for ArF immersion lithography. Development based on the currently marketed NSR-S307E, with a projection lens NA of 0.85.
2005Completion of initial mass production tool. Development based on successor of NSR-S307E, with an NA of 1.0 or greater.

“Nikon continues to push the technology envelope” stated Geoff Wild CEO of Nikon Precision, Inc. He continued “Our customers need an immersion system with an NA of 1.0 or greater and no one else has the lens technology and immersion expertise to deliver a tool in 2005. We’ve made significant progress with immersion development, enabling us to accelerate our schedule.”

About Immersion Lithography
Traditionally the light source wavelength and numerical aperture (NA) have dictated the resolution of a lithography system. NA is derived from NA = n x sin θ, where n is the refractive index of the medium through which the exposure light passes, and θ is the angle the exposure light forms. Normal exposure is processed in air, and in that case n = 1. In immersion lithography, by contrast, a liquid that has a refractive index that is greater than 1 is introduced between the projection lens and the wafer. In terms of the definition of the projection optics NA, the n increases in the equation NA = n sin θ. With the same angle of incidence, the minimum resolution can be reduced (improved). In an immersion lithography system using an ArF laser as the light source, de-ionized water with an index of refraction of 1.44 is introduced between the projection lens and the wafer. Although this method is used conventionally in microscopes, only in recent years has serious research started for applications to immersion lithography exposure tools.

About Nikon
Since 1980, Nikon Corporation has been revolutionizing lithography with innovative products and technologies. The company is a worldwide leader in lithography equipment for the microelectronics manufacturing industry with more than 7,200 exposure systems installed worldwide. Nikon offers the most extensive selection of production-class steppers and scanners in the industry. These products serve the semiconductor, flat panel display (LCD) and thin-film magnetic head (TFH) industries. Nikon Precision Inc. provides service, training, applications and technical support, as well as sales and marketing for Nikon lithography equipment in North America.

This press release contains forward-looking statements as that term is defined in the Private Securities Reform Act of 1995, which are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements. Such statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and changes in condition, particularly those related to industry requirements and other risks. The Company undertakes no obligation to update the information in this press release.

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Contact:
Bernie Wood
Director of Marketing
Nikon Precision Inc.
(650) 413-8533 phone
bwood@nikon.com