Nanoparticles added atop conventional photo-resists can extend the lifetime of existing semiconductor fabrication equipment according to Pixelligent. Look for widespread adoption of such techniques in the next five years. R.C.J.
Optical lithography can be extended below 32 nanometers, according to Pixelligent Technologies LLC, which has developed a nanocrystalline material that it says enhances the resolution of existing photolithography equipment. The company recently closed a $2 million round of equity financing to commercialize its nanocrystals, which it says have applications in optical lithography and as nanocomposite coatings for microelectronics. Pixelligent's secret sauce involves the fabrication of nonsilicon nanocrystals with properties custom-designed for specific applications. The company declined to identify the exact composition of its proprietary nanoparticles, except to say that they are nonsilicon. By combining the semiconducting nanocrystals with lithographic polymers, Pixelligent claims traditional resists can be improved so that they can image much finer lines. The company also claims its nanocrystal coatings result in higher yields, lower materials costs and improved throughput, all while using existing chip fabrication equipment.