Extreme-Ultraviolet Technology Could Keep Moore’s Law Alive

Silicon waferIntel’s co-founder Gordon Moore famously predicted in 1965 that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits would continue to double every two years. His observation, dubbed “Moore’s Law” has held true for a half a century, but silicon transistors finally appear to be reaching their practical limits. Now, just in time, an innovative chip manufacturing method is almost ready to keep Moore’s Law alive. The technology is called extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. Public and private groups in the silicon industry have invested billions of dollars and dozens of years on developing this technology, and now it is finally ready to be tested in factories.

EUV lithography uses shorter wavelengths of light than today’s chips, which has meant that until recently the light has been too dim to be practical. Now, a Dutch company called ASML has solved this problem by developing lithography machines that draw on the latest advances in plasma and laser physics and a thorough understanding of the materials. While last year the light source only emitted 40 watts, ASML has now gotten it up to a bright 200 watts, which speeds up manufacturing time and makes EUV lithography a realistic option. Now ASML’s machines are being tested at factories run by customers including Intel, Samsung, and more.

Source: MIT Technology Review

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