28 February 2011

Where's lithography going?

The semiconductor industry has seen some trying times of late, but the energy feels strongly positive today, on the first day of the lithography community’s annual gathering in San Jose. And the perspective is strongly forward-looking, as evidenced by the first two talks at SPIE Advanced Lithography.

The meeting began with all-symposium plenary talks, as it has for most of the 35 years it has been held.

EUV was front-and-center in IMEC CEO Luc Van den hove’s picture of the future; IMEC has invested in ASML’s new NXE3100 pre-production EUV lithography scanner. Van den hove shared his vision of how applications of semiconductor technology will further enhance human capabilities and presented the necessary device roadmap to make that vision a reality.

Luc Van den hove (IMEC)


"We are people of bits and bytes," he said. "Just imagine a day without your smart phone.” That demand, he noted, creates an increasingly large need to lower energy consumption to realize true advances that will help solve the large problems that mankind faces, among them:
  • sensor applications for monitoring air or food quality
  • growing interest in 3D video displays with applications in entertainment, teleconferencing, and medical procedures
  • eco-friendly autonomous cars
  • mating microfluidics and biosensors to enable more preventative, predictive care for a population that will see a doubling in the number of 60+ people by the year 2050.
In the morning’s second plenery talk, Shang-yi Chiang of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation styled Moore's Law for the next decade. Chiang noted that so far optical lithography has been the key to staying aligned with Moore's Law.
Shang-yi Chiang (TSMC)

However, Chiang said, if one looks at a comparison of the costs of producing at lower and lower nodes, one can see that extension of current ArF immersion techniques will become increasingly more costly than EUV or multiple-electron-beam direct write (MEBDW). So, he said, based solely on economics, it's clear that technology migration to next-generation lithography is necessary to sustain Moore's Law.

Conversations throughout the week will move both theory and technology forward. As Chiang noted, when it comes to lithography, the future is in the hands of the attendees of this conference.

11 February 2011

‘Have photonics knowledge, will share’

Knowledge is power. In the case of science, knowledge shared can also result in funding and other support for the R&D that will solve many of the world’s energy, healthcare, communications, and other problems. But ... how to go about sharing?
One of the mid-week television highlights over the last month has been the NOVA series on “Making Stuff,” with its four episodes on clean technology, smart materials, nanotechnology, and high-strength materials. “Stuff” refers to materials but the overlaps with light-based technologies -- optics and photonics -- are pervasive, and the show’s host, New York Times tech columnist David Pogue, is an effective ambassador for science. (Follow the link below to see the series on PBS.)
(From the series web page: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/making-stuff.html)
David is not the only science ambassador out there. I sat in on a meeting during SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco last month at which a group of 20 people went around the room telling what they have done in the past year to advance the understanding of science in their communities.

It turns out that 20 people generate around 60 different activities: funding summer interns in an R&D lab, giving a demonstration for a child’s second-grade class, lobbying state and national lawmakers, presenting an optics lesson to 2,400 Boy Scouts as part of a science badge, judging a community science fair -- it’s a long list.
It’s an inspiring list that provoked additional ideas about how to share photonics science with even more students and nonscientists. Several people in that room in San Francisco wanted to hear more about what others are doing, in order put those ideas to use themselves. We’re working on ways to share those stories.
If you are also looking for ideas, browse the list of brief reports on what winners of SPIE Education Outreach grants are doing -- buying optics kits and other supplies for classroom teachers, putting on a Laser Camp, presenting workshops on building solar-powered vehicles, getting involved in local science fairs, and much more.
What opportunities do you have to add to the understanding of science in your neighborhood or communitiy?

02 February 2011

A new era in integrated photonics begins at OpSIS

Intel’s Mario Paniccia has an amazing list of tasks that could be done via a fingernail-size chip loaded with optical integrated circuits: download the contents of the U.S. Library of Congress in 1.5 minutes, or an entire movie or 150 albums worth of music in a second; or run complex medical imaging from a handheld device, to name just a few items.
 
An important new piece in creating the solutions for making all that happen in a cost-effective way got a big push forward yesterday in Seattle, at the kick-off event for the new OpSIS lab at the University of Washington.

Michael Hochberg (University of Washington), Director of OpSIS
  
Michael Hochberg, Director of OpSIS (Optoelectronic Systems Integration in Silicon) was joined by high-level friends and partners as well as UW staff, faculty, and students in launching the new lab, a multi-project wafer shuttle service for silicon photonics.
 
CalTech's Carver Mead -- who coined Moore's Law and is a co-inventor of VLSI circuits -- was there, as was Justin Rattner, Chief Technology Officer of Intel.
Justin Rattner (Intel): "Together we usher in a new era ..." at OpSIS
   
Intel has provided financial backing for OpSIS, and the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research has funded research by Hochberg. BAE Systems will be involved in fabricating the initial chip run. In keeping with the vision of serving the entire silicon photonics community, OpSIS is inviting other partners as well.
 
Expectations for the lab are high -- nothing short of transformational. As Rattner, noted, the high-volume opportunities for optical technology that will drive the cost down are rich. “Together," he said, "we usher in a new age of optical integrated circuits.”
 
Follow the links below to read what the press have had to say about OpSIS -- and get ready for a new era!

At the OpSIS reception, from left, Mario Paniccia (Intel), Carver Mead (CalTech), Eugene Arthurs (SPIE)

TechEye, 2 February 2011
Intel funds silicon photonics foundry service

Wall Street Journal: Digits blog, 1 February 2011
Researchers hope sharing costs will spur optical chips

Puget Sound Business Journal: TechFlash blog, 1 February 2011
Q&A: Why the UW and Intel are betting on silicon photonic chips

Xconomy, 1 February 2011
UW, backed by Intel and U.S. Military, sets up center to merge electronics, photonics

Seattle Times: Brier Dudley's blog, 31 January 2011
UW starting silicon photonics foundry service

EE Times: EE Life blog, 31 January 2011
Chips with integrated optical interconnects coming…eventually