By creating chips with smaller and smaller features-- the semiconductor
industry will introduce chips this year with 0.25 micron features--computer
manufacturers will be able to pack more computing capacity into a given chip.
Secretary of Energy Federico Peña, participating in a news conference in
San Jose to announce a kick-off three-year, $250 million contract, said the new
technology will permit entire libraries of books to be stored on a single chip.
Computers may be able to conduct intelligent "conversations," in any language,
through voice recognition and response, he said.
Joining Peña in the announcement were Chairman Emeritus Gordon Moore of
Intel; Advanced Micro Devices Chairman Jerry Sanders; Joe Mogab of Motorola;
Tinsley Optics President Bob Aronno; laboratory directors Charles V. Shank
(Berkeley), Bruce Tarter (Livermore), and Deputy Director John Crawford
(Sandia); and several representatives of computer manufacturing and design
Peña said the partnership, the largest Cooperative Research and
Development Agreement (CRADA) in DOE history, "is the strongest possible
endorsement of the scientific and technical capabilities found at the
Department of Energy's national laboratories."
The three laboratories will form a "virtual national laboratory" with the
Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography Limited Liability Company (EUV LLC), headed by
Intel, Motorola, and Advanced Micro Devices. The goal is to have a commercially
proven manufacturing technology for a new generation of computer chip in place
by the early 21st century.
In order to produce such chips, manufacturers must be able to purchase
manufacturing equipment with very precise optics capable of transferring the
intricate patterns onto the chip material. That's where Berkeley Lab comes in.
The Lab will receive about 10 percent of the total research funding.
Extreme ultraviolet light (EUV) and soft X-rays, the type used by CXRO at
Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source, are next to each other in the spectrum.
Because of their short wavelengths, the two kinds of light are well suited for
work in the area of microscopy (the smaller the wavelength, the smaller the
feature that you can see) and lithography (the smaller the wavelength, the
smaller feature than can be etched by the light). And because they are very
similar, Berkeley Lab's decade of expertise in this largely untapped field will
make it a key member of the virtual lab partnership.
Under the CRADA, Sandia California will provide the EUV light source and the
recording material, and be responsible for integrating the system. Lawrence
Livermore will provide the critical optics and coatings for the lenses, as well
as the "mask blanks" for making patterns on chips.
Berkeley Lab will provide the EUV measurements to determine the accuracy of the
optics and optical coatings as they are developed, said Dave Attwood, head of
Berkeley's Center for X-ray Optics. Jeffrey Bokor is the team leader for EUV
interferometry, and Jim Underwood is the team leader for EUV reflectometry and
Underwood's group will be studying the performance of the multi-layer coatings
on the mirrors used in the manufacturing process, with the goal of improved
optical throughput and coating uniformity. Underwood said his work will be done
on Beamline 6.3.2 at the ALS.
"We have a wealth of experience in this field, which we've been pushing for 10
years," said Attwood. "For this project, we need to make measurements at
wavelengths at which the optics are actually being used.
"Our measurements will focus on how the optical wavefront is distorted as it
reflects from the new optics, then provide information as to how the components
can be improved to further reduce the distortion," Attwood said. "Such fine
detail is essential to the consortium's success, and demonstrates how each lab
is playing an integral role in the success of this project." He noted that
Hector Medecki in CXRO holds the patent on the interferometer for making these
One of the difficulties in using this kind of light, Attwood says, is that all
materials absorb at these wavelengths, thereby providing an unusual challenge
in making compatible mirrors and lenses. On the other hand, EUV is also a very
powerful tool for chemistry and materials science, especially at the atomic and
"Optics at these very short wavelengths present their own challenges and the
field was in a very crude state when we began our work at Berkeley in the early
1980s," Attwood said. "With the progress made here, at our partner labs and in
centers around the world, we've made substantial advances in the past decade.
Our goals for the next few years would have been unthinkable 10 years ago."
Under the agreement, optical components developed at Livermore will be brought
to the ALS for testing and measurement. Those EUV measurements will be critical
to understanding and maximizing the coatings and measuring the properties of
the optics once they have been coated, Attwood said.
Bokor's group is adapting optical testing methods for use at the ALS.
Typically, lasers are used for testing lithography optics, but there is no
laser available to test at the EUV wavelength. "Inventing a new method to use
the properties of the ALS is where the innovation is," Bokor said.
"We're looking for perfection at a very high level, because the image has to be
superbly crisp," he said. "In order for it to be crisp, the optics have to be
free of any errors. Our job is to test the optics at the operating wavelength
and put the final stamp of approval on the optics before they are put into the
While still in the development stages, Attwood said the relationship among the
three labs is working "miraculously well, and they are virtually working as a
cohesive research organization."
The EUV lithography approach is just one of three being explored worldwide.
Intel's Moore emphasized that the other processes--one using shadow-casting
techniques with shorter-wavelength x-rays, another using electron beam direct
writing--will continue to be assessed in the race to build a smaller, faster