Japan-based Canon introduced a new line of advanced chipmaking equipment featuring nanoimprint lithography (NIL) technology, which it claims is a simpler process than extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) and can significantly reduce power consumption and costs.
In a statement, the company explained the technology, which executes circuit pattern transfer, enables patterns with a minimum linewidth of 14nm, equivalent to the 5nm-node required to produce the most advanced semiconductors available.
The optics specialist noted with further improvement, NIL is expected to enable circuit patterning with a minimum linewidth of 10nm, which corresponds to next-generation 2nm-node production.
Richard Windsor, founder of industry blog Radio Free Mobile, stated after many years of development, Canon is ready to market equipment allowing chipmakers to go below 7nm without using EUV for the first time.
He argued the ban on China importing EUV machinery may have created an incentive for Canon to commercialise an alternative process that may be exportable to the mainland.
However, with the US looking to tighten export controls to close loopholes, Windsor believes accessing advanced chip equipment is likely to become even more difficult for China, resulting in it focusing on 45nm to 28nm chips and falling further behind.
Netherlands-based ASML is the market leader in EUV chip machinery.
With nanoimprint lithography, Canon noted fine circuit patterns can be accurately reproduced on a wafer, allowing complex 2D or 3D circuit patterns to be formed in a single imprint, which may reduce the cost of ownership.
Since the product does not require a light source with a special wavelength for fine circuit, it can reduce power consumption significantly compared with photolithography equipment, Canon stated.