• MTO_Title
  • Maskless Nanowriter

    The Maskless Nanowriter program will develop a maskless, direct-write lithography tool to address both DoD's need for affordable, high performance, low-volume integrated circuits and the commercial market's need for highly customized, application-specific integrated circuits.

     DoD has become increasingly reliant on custom integrated circuits as advanced micro-electronics are inserted into designs for next-generation weapons, communications and electronic warfare systems.  Traditional optical methods for fabricating these circuits require lithographic mask sets whose cost has exponentially grown as circuit dimensions have decreased to 45, 32 and 22 nanometers.  The commercial market can amortize the cost of these masks over the millions of ICs they produce annually; the DoD’s market is significantly smaller, and the mask costs constitute a large portion of any fabrication budget.  The goal of the Maskless Nanowriter program is to produce a maskless electron-beam-direct-write (EBDW) lithography tool using a novel reflection electron beam lithography (REBL) concept invented by KLA-Tencor. 

    A critical differentiating component of the Maskless Nanowriter concept is the use of a reflective electron beam pattern generator that converts design data for an integrated circuit into a column of 1 million parallel electron beams, controlled and modulated individually to write a circuit pattern directly onto a wafer at very high throughput.  With a total beam current of 4.5 microamps projected to the wafer, 5-to-7 300-millimeter wafer levels can be patterned per hour, representing a write-speed more than 100 times faster than what is available from existing single electron beam, direct-write technology.  By delivering patterning performance compatible with the 45-nanometer node and beyond at several wafers per hour without the requirement for masks, Nanowriter will enable affordable and timely production of state-of-the art integrated circuits in small lots entirely within secure onshore fabrication facilities.  In addition, it provides a commercially viable EBDW tool to ensure continued availability of custom application-specific integrated circuits for DoD applications.

    Success in development of this REBL technology will increase the economic viability of small lot productions of state-of-the-art custom application-specific integrated circuits, NEMS/MEMS devices and nanophotonic devices for DoD.  Alpha-level tools will be made available for test and characterization by partner foundry facilities at the end of 2013.  The production-level maskless lithography tools developed will be installed in a DoD trusted foundry to enable affordable production of small lots of state-of-the-art DoD nanosystems for a broad spectrum of applications.  The technology will find wide commercial application for nanopatterning masks for DUV lithography and templates for imprint lithography, defraying tool infrastructure costs for DoD.

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