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Upload organization:Japanest NIPPON   Upload date:2011/10/13

Nikon: ArF Immersion Scanner NSR-S620D

History of Nikon
Nikon Corporation is a global leader in the development and sales of optical instruments and components. The company’s main products include cameras, telescopes, binoculars as well as semiconductor manufacturing equipment. In the years shortly after its founding in 1917, Nikon mainly manufactured optical equipment including binoculars. It was in the 1930s when the company expanded its scope with the manufacture of cameras, adding precision equipment such as exposure devices to its business line in the 1940s. Nikon has been diversifying its business ever since.

As of 2008, Nikon’s imaging business, including single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras that have been earning especially high praise worldwide, accounted for 60% of its gross revenue. Semiconductor based trade (including semiconductor manufacturing equipment) and optical components (including optical measurement devices and microscopes) accounted for 30% and 6%, respectively.

In the following, Nikon’s semiconductor exposure apparatus, which has gained a preeminent reputation among major semiconductor manufacturers, is showcased.

Semiconductor manufacture
In general, semiconductors with finer configuration circuits are believed to be more advantageous in terms of hardware properties such as high-speed operation, minimal power consumption, and low-heat generation. With these aspects in mind, a circuit pattern printed on a silicon wafer, which is the basis of semiconductor manufacture, need also be finer.

Scanners are a type of reduced projection exposure device (steppers), which reduce and copy circuit patterns onto silicon wafers. They expose both the reticle and the silicon wafer on which circuit patterns to be copied are printed by moving them simultaneously. Exposure can be performed using the lens center, which is indeed the most reliable part of a lens, and thus scanners are suitable for the structural refinement of silicon wafers. However, in that regard, scanners require complicated mechanical structures, and so devices tend to be expensive.

Moreover, in recent years, in order to achieve even better refinement, a technique called “immersion” has been developed, whereby the gap between a lens and a silicon wafer is filled with a liquid. Scanners employing this immersion technique can manage refinement at the level of 20 nm using a double patterning technique.

Manufacturers of semiconductors and therefore silicon wafers are aiming at even finer structures with worldwide demand for immersion scanners ever increasing.

ArF Immersion Scanner NSR-S620D
Nikon is a global leader with a significant market share in the manufacture of steppers. Herein, the ArF Immersion Scanner NSR-S620D, which is the latest model in Nikon’s scanner line, is introduced.

ArF Immersion Scanner NSR-S620D

In addition to the Tandem Stage and Local Fill Nozzle, which are the key technologies of Nikon’s current ArF Immersion Scanner series, the NSR-S620D newly incorporates three novel technologies explained below. Moreover, the use of the Streamlign platform, which is an innovative arrangement with no comparison in the world, has enabled system performance suited for the mass production of 32 nm processes as well as extension to 22 nm processes.

Unique, proprietary technologies: Tandem Stage and Local Fill Nozzle
The immersion technique, in which water is used in precision machines, was thought to be difficult to be of practical use because water and precision machines are basically incompatible. It is Nikon’s unique, proprietary technologies: the Tandem Stage and the Local Fill Nozzle, which have overcome this incompatibility.

The Tandem Stage has specific advantages, namely that pure water can be continuously supplied while changing silicon wafers. Thus the process is divided into two stages, exposure and calibration, allowing stable temperature control and a minimal loss of processing time.

The Local Fill Nozzle almost completely eliminates air bubbles and watermarks that cause defects in immersion processes, as well as prevents contamination on the rear surface of silicon wafers. Since no evaporation of water occurs, there is no temperature decrease due to the heat of vaporization, and thus the contraction of silicon wafers can be avoided. Thanks to this advantage, greater alignment accuracy has been achieved.

These two unique technologies have made Nikon the first manufacturer in the world to incorporate the immersion technique into steppers.

Three novel technologies that are newly employed
In the NSR-S620D, three novel technologies are employed: 1) Bird’s Eye Control, 2) Stream Alignment, and 3) Modular2 Structure. These three technologies are explained in the following. 
1) Bird’s Eye Control: Optimum stage performance is achieved with a hybrid system of a high-precision encoder and a conventional interferometer. Moreover, focus control as well as precision and stability are improved. Thanks to these features, a 2-nm overlay capability is achieved.
2) Stream Alignment: A Straight Line Auto-Focus system with extensively expanded beam span enables the mapping of the surface of silicon wafers in one step and improves focus control precision. Additionally, the utilization of five alignment microscopes (Five-Eye FIA) increases the number of measurement points for alignment while maintaining high productivity. Also silicon wafer overhead time is significantly reduced and a throughput of up to 200 wafers per hour is achieved.
3) Modular2 Structure: The system is designed to be installed in around 20 days. Additionally, maintenance is simplified by the modular design, and even the finest components can be replaced, thereby simplifying maintainability and improving uptime considerably. The highly expandable platform design allows multigenerational use.

As described, Nikon’s NSR-S620D is an innovative immersion scanner that integrates some of the most advanced technologies of our time.

Future of Nikon
Nikon has been a front-runner in the semiconductor exposure device sector ever since it’s early incorporation of immersion technology. In 2011, Nikon’s global market share in this sector stands at 20%. Alongside the NSR-S620D, which is introduced here, Nikon will continue to develop ever more innovative machines that can handle even finer circuits. Nikon has been expanding its sales and service offices not only in Japan but also in North America, Europe, and Asia, establishing close partnerships with major semiconductor manufacturers around the world. Further advancement of Nikon’s business is expected.

Nikon’s other business sectors are expected to mirror the growth of the semiconductor sector, driven by Nikon’s strong, progressive spirit.

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