Oct. 26, 1998 MURRAY HILL, N.J. -- Lucent Technologies has signed an agreement with MCNC's MEMS Technology Application Center to supply commercial-quality mask blanks for Lucent's SCALPEL electron-beam lithography program. Lucent expects this step to accelerate the commercialization of SCALPEL, its next-generation lithography approach for manufacturing semiconductor chips.
The SCALPEL system, developed at Lucent's Bell Labs, projects a high-energy beam of electrons through a patterned scattering mask onto a resist-coated silicon wafer to create integrated circuit features that are just 0.08 microns. This approach overcomes the limits placed on the semiconductor industry by current optical lithography systems and will meet future feature-size criteria -- 0.05 micron features by 2012 -- as outlined in the National Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors.
"To date, Bell Labs has made mask blanks for research purposes," said SCALPEL Program Manager Lloyd Harriott. "This agreement with MCNC is the latest step that shows the SCALPEL technique is fast approaching commercial viability."
After the blank masks are made, patterns are placed on them by two other companies -- Photronics, Inc., and DuPont Photomasks, Inc., which are commercial suppliers of optical masks.
International SEMATECH, an Austin, Texas-based semiconductor manufacturing research consortium, is helping to fund the demonstration of commercial-quality mask production at MCNC, based in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Currently, International SEMATECH is generating an extensive database that will lead to an industry consensus on the next generation of lithography technology.
Today's chip manufacturing systems produce features as small as 0.25 microns, and next-generation optical lithography systems may produce features as small as 0.13 microns. The SCALPEL system, meanwhile, uses a beam of electrons, whose wavelength is much smaller than the ultraviolet light used in optical lithography, to print the 0.08-micron features.
Lucent Technologies, headquartered in Murray Hill, N.J., designs, builds and delivers a wide range of public and private networks, communications systems and software, data networking systems, business telephone systems and microelectronics components. Bell Laboratories is the research and development arm for the company. For more information on Lucent Technologies, visit the company's web site at http://www.lucent.com or the SCALPEL web site at http://www.bell-labs.com/project/SCALPEL.
MCNC is a private, nonprofit technology development and management company. MCNC is recognized as a technology leader in the areas of microelectromechanical systems, advanced networking, high-performance computing, and electronic packaging. The MEMS Technology Application Center has the engineering skills and infrastructure to support product design and development activities through production. More information is available at http://mems.mcnc.org.
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