With the beginning of TSMC’s price increase, the price increase due to lack of core has been accepted by major manufacturers in the semiconductor industry. The shortage of chips is not only the shortage of raw materials, but also the problem of production capacity. However, the research and development of new materials will improve the mass production of chips.
As early as 2019, OEM has begun to apply extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) lithography technology to high-volume chip manufacturing (HVM) to a limited extent. However, one of the main factors affecting the popularity of EUV process is the lack of photomask materials, which limits the capacity expansion of EUV process. Recently, this situation has finally been improved, and is expected to usher in further development in the next few years.
In recent years, ASML’s TWINSCAN nxe EUV lithography machine has made great progress, improving light source performance, availability time, and productivity. Unfortunately, the mask part of EUV still faces great challenges before mass production. In addition to TSMC, Samsung Semiconductor has also been forced to find alternative EUV manufacturing processes in the absence of supply. Mask materials used in chip manufacturing (usually 6 × 6 inches), which can separate particles that may fall on the surface of the substrate, thus providing additional protection for the wafer on the chip production line. As the cost of each set of EUV marker is US $300000, it is particularly important to reduce the risk related to yield.
As early as 2019, ASML has highlighted the first EVU mask and licensed the technology to Mitsui chemical. The latter plans to start mass production and sales in the second quarter of 2021, and ASML has not stopped continuous improvement.
However, semiconductor engineering points out that so far, only ASML has launched a commercially viable EUV mask (based on 50nm thick polysilicon).
As early as 2016, the company demonstrated the 78% transmittance achieved on a simulated 175W light source, and is now selling a new generation mask with an efficiency of 88%.
It is believed that Mitsui chemical will supply a large number of such masks in the near future. Finally, AnandTech mentioned that ASML has demonstrated a prototype with a transmittance of up to 90.6%. The nonuniformity is controlled within 0.2%, and the reflectivity can be controlled below 0.005% under 400W light source.