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German grant for Eureka project approved

The European Commission has decided to raise no objection to a grant of 60 million euro to promote German participation in a joint Eureka project to develop extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) technologies. It is hoped that the results of the project will help strengthen th...

The European Commission has decided to raise no objection to a grant of 60 million euro to promote German participation in a joint Eureka project to develop extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) technologies. It is hoped that the results of the project will help strengthen the position of the European semiconductor industry suppliers through the development of knowledge and intellectual property. Lithography is one of the most important steps in the fabrication of integrated circuits. It uses a high frequency light flash to print on silicon wafers a multiplied and downscaled image of the integrated circuit pattern models designed by engineers. The resolution of the circuits so printed is driven by the wavelength of the light that is used in the printing process. The present generation of lithography uses ultra-violet light, the wavelength of which is a few hundred nanometres. With the constant diminution in the semiconductor structure size, it is widely believed that, within 10 to11 years, the wavelength of the light required in the lithography process will go past the ultra-violet spectrum into the EUV or soft x-ray zone. As interaction between light and matter starts to change radically at these frequencies, most of the techniques that underlie conventional lithography have to be modified drastically. For example, EUV cannot be collimated through lenses. It is therefore necessary to design a set of totally new optical tools using mirror instead of lenses to direct it.