Companies to collaborate on 248 nm and 193 nm imaging systems optimized for generating sub-0.18 semiconductor device features
San Jose, California – July 5, 2000 – Numerical Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: NMTC) and Nikon Precision, Inc. (NPI) have entered into a joint development agreement designed to extend the life of available optical imaging systems. The companies will cooperate to enable the rapidly growing adoption of the subwavelength lithography technology used to reduce the size of the features on advanced semiconductors.
Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will perform joint development of lithography solutions that maximize yield and throughput for NPI customers using phase-shifting technology. NPI will utilize Numerical’s patented phase shifting technology and related services to characterize and confirm the performance of 248 nm and 193 nm optical imaging systems for processes that incorporate phase shifting and optical proximity correction (OPC).
“Our customers have put phase shifting and OPC onto their roadmaps for the 0.15 and 0.13 micron technology generations,” said Eric Johnson, NPI vice president of technology. “By working with Numerical Technologies, we can ensure that we are well prepared to provide solutions for sub-0.18 micron technologies. We believe that it is a cost-effective way for our customers to extend the life of an existing tool and to allow subwavelength product development.”
“The industry will extend optical lithography as long as it remains cost-effective to do so,” stated Dan Hutcheson of VLSI Research. “By working with Numerical to accommodate optical extensions, NPI is well positioned to meet the future demands of its customers.”
Y. C. Buno Pati, president and CEO of Numerical stated, “As a leader in lithography imaging, NPI offers systems that will play a key part of the design-to-silicon solution that is needed to reliably manufacture subwavelength ICs.”
In April 1999, Numerical Technologies received US patent #5,858,580 for its dual exposure darkfield phase shifting technique. Numerical’s phase shifting technology requires that a single layer of a wafer be exposed using two different reticles that combine to form the wafer image. By enabling the imaging system to quickly swap reticles during the exposure process, the wafers will move through the exposure process at a faster rate, with more controllable results.
Companies that have recently released information about their use of Numerical’s phase-shifting technology to produce ICs with smaller feature sizes include Motorola (NYSE: MOT), Lucent’s Bell Laboratories (NYSE: LU), and Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN).
Nikon Precision Inc. is the North American subsidiary of Nikon Corp., the world leader in lithography equipment for the microelectronics manufacturing industry with more than 6,200 units installed worldwide. Nikon offers the most extensive selection of production-class steppers and scanners in the industry, including g-line, i-line, and DUV products. These products serve the wafer, photomask, flat-panel display, and thin-film magnetic head industries. Nikon Precision provides service, applications, training, technical support, sales, and marketing for Nikon in North America.
Nikon Precision Inc.