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Nikon Announces Immersion Lithography Product Schedule

BELMONT, Calif. –Dec. 1, 2003— Nikon Corporation announced today that it has completed capability studies on fundamental technologies related to immersion lithography.

Semiconductor tool manufacturers have accelerated research and development to keep pace with increasingly faster and denser semiconductor devices. In the lithography field, plans are being put forward to use ArF exposure tools with current leading-edge technologies to support even greater device miniaturization. In particular, the realization of an ArF exposure tool using immersion technology is a groundbreaking method as it enables 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 the basic development for this technology early on, and as a result of a half year of feasibility studies, found no showstopper that might prevent its realization. It was consequently decided to move ArF immersion lithography to the development stage with a view toward productization. For the future, the company is aiming to launch mass production at an early timing based on the schedule given below.

Overview of Product Introduction Schedule

Later half of 2004Completion of engineering evaluation model of ArF immersion lithography, and start of user evaluations. Development on the basis of the currently marketed ArF exposure tool NSR-S307E, with a projection lens NA of 0.85.
2005 :Completion of pre-production model. Development based on successor of NSR-S307E, with an NA of 0.92.
2006Start of sales of mass produced model. NA > 1.0.

By being the world’s first to develop and productize immersion lithography technology, Nikon will be contributing to the development of the semiconductor industry by making further miniaturization of semiconductor devices possible, and simultaneously providing efficient facility investments for semiconductor manufacturers.

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 ´ sinq, where n is the refractive index of the medium through which the exposure light passes, and q 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 sinq. With the same angle of incidence, the minimum resolution can be reduced (improved). In an immersion lithography exposure 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