Recently, representatives of the Dutch company ASML, a leader in the production of scanners for the lithographic production of chips, reported that an export license is required only for the supply of EUV scanners to China. DUV (193nm) scanners and other equipment do not require a license and will continue to ship in the country. This will be enough to deploy 7nm and even 5nm semiconductors in China.
In particular, at the China Import Expo recently held in China, ASML set up its own stand, where it showed advanced equipment for the production of chips with scanners with a wavelength of 193 nm. We are talking about a device for aligning masks, which is necessary for high-precision positioning of photomasks in the process of manufacturing microcircuit layers. The level of scrap depends on the positioning accuracy. The more accurately the photomask is aligned with the silicon wafer, the higher the level of product yield.
Modern DUV scanners, albeit at the expense of a larger number of passes, are able to replace EUV scanners in processes down to 5 nm. Obviously, this will require a lot more masks (photomasks) and operations to align them. Therefore, mask equalizers begin to play an ever-increasing role during the period of bans on the import of more advanced EUV scanners into China. Fortunately for China, anything related to previous chip technologies is still allowed for import. As a backup option, China is developing its own equipment for lithographic projection in the DUV range.
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