Canon expects to ship nanoimprint lithography machines by 2024

Jingyue Hsiao, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Canon expects its nanoimprint lithography machine to ship this year, competing with ASML's EVU gear as economies around the world are keen to expand their chip production capacity on their home turfs,

Hiroaki Takeishi, chairman and CEO at Canon, told the Financial Times that the company plans to start shipping its nanoimprint lithography machine, FPA-1200NZ2C, in 2024, adding that chips can be easily made at low costs. In November 2023, the company said the price for the equipment would be one digit cheaper than ASML's EUV machines.

Canon said that, unlike conventional lithography technology that uses light to expose circuit patterns, nanoimprint lithography does not require a light source, and circuits are formed using a simple principle that involves transferring a circuit pattern mask onto the coated resist on the surface of the wafer. Besides, the nanoimprint lithography technology can form complex two- and three-dimensional patterns in a single pass, and power consumption can be reduced by about one-tenth compared to advanced logic exposure technology.

Takeishi said that Canon is not targeting to grab a share away from (ASML's) EUVs, and the company believes various lithography technologies can coexist, contributing to the overall growth in the industry.

Jeff Chu, CEO of Ansforce, said that due to the high-capacity NAND flash memory currently employing a 3D stacked structure, it is more suitable for nanoimprint lithography. Bits & Chips reported that SK Hynix and Kioxia have tested Canon's nanoimprint lithography machines for years. Still, in May 2023, SK Hynix said there had been no discussion on the possible introduction or commercialization of the nanoimprint lithography.

The yield rate of chips made with the technology remains to be seen. The Financial Times cited analysts saying the yield has to be near 90% to compete with ASML's technology. Richard Windsor, the founder of Radio Free Mobile, told the report that if the technology was superior, it would have been up and running by now and in the market in volume.

Takeishi told the Financial Times that Canon had largely resolved the issue. However, there will be various difficulties in bringing in new technology since the existing chip manufacturing processes are optimized for EUVs.