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Russia launches its first photolithography machine: 350nm

release time:2024-05-28Author source:SlkorBrowse:2029

According to recent news reports, Russia has successfully produced and is currently testing its first domestically manufactured photolithography machine capable of producing 350nm chips. Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, Vasily Shpak, announced this development during the CIPR conference to TASS.

"We have assembled and manufactured the first domestic photolithography machine, and it is currently undergoing testing as part of the Zelenograd technology production line," he said.

In general, this level of complexity in equipment is assembled by several major manufacturers, with the largest being the Netherlands-based ASML, along with Canon and Nikon.

Although 350-nanometer chips are considered large-scale, they are still utilized in various industries, including automotive, energy, and telecommunications.

Russia will produce photolithography machines: 350nm in 2024, and 65nm in 2026.

According to reports from Russian media, Russia is currently developing and manufacturing photolithography machines for producing chips. Vasily Shpak, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, stated in a media interview that production of 350nm photolithography machines will begin in 2024, followed by the launch of photolithography machines for producing 130nm process chips in 2026. The production will take place in existing factories in Moscow, Zelenograd, Saint Petersburg, and Novosibirsk.

Vasily Shpak pointed out that currently only two companies globally produce such equipment, including Japan's NIKON and the Netherlands' ASML.

However, these machines are crucial for semiconductor production. He emphasized that without semiconductor sovereignty, there can be no technological sovereignty, leaving a country vulnerable in terms of defense and political sovereignty. Russia has already mastered the technology of using foreign-made 65nm photolithography machines, but due to restrictions on advanced photolithography machine exports to Russia by foreign companies, Russia is urgently developing its own production equipment.

Vasily Shpak stated that in 2024, 211.4 billion rubles will be allocated for the development of domestic electronic products. The decision to develop photolithography machines for 350nm to 65nm stems from the fact that chips within this technological range are widely used in microcontrollers, power electronics, telecommunications circuits, automotive electronics, and other applications, accounting for approximately 60% of the market.

Therefore, there is significant global demand for this equipment, which is expected to remain high for at least 10 years.

When asked about potential obstacles, Vasily Shpak said, "I don't want to complain; all problems are not problems, as this relates to what opportunities we have and the goals we set."

Russia is also developing its own photolithography machines.

According to a report by CNews, St. Petersburg has established a domestic lithography complex that includes equipment for maskless image acquisition on substrates and silicon plasma chemical etching. The developers claim that the first machine for maskless nanolithography costs about 5 million rubles (approximately 367,400 RMB), which is significantly lower than the cost of similar foreign products, which can reach several billion rubles.

Experts at St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) have developed two sets of devices for producing nanostructures in microelectronics, which they believe will address Russia's technological sovereignty issues in this field. The complex comprises equipment for maskless nanolithography and silicon plasma chemical etching.

The first installation is used to acquire images on substrates without the need for special masks. According to the developers, this technology is much cheaper in terms of both cost and time compared to traditional lithography, as it eliminates the need for special masks. The installation is controlled by specialized software and operates fully automated.

The estimated cost of this installation is around 5 million rubles, which is comparable to the price of many modern Chinese cars, such as the Geely Monjaro crossover. In comparison, similar foreign equipment is claimed to cost tens of times more, ranging from 10 to 13 billion rubles.

The complex is intended to create nanostructures required for various microelectronic devices. The first stage of the process involves the use of a basic mask lithography machine, while the second stage uses a machine for silicon plasma chemical etching.

The second installation utilizes the patterns created in the first stage on the substrate. It is designed for direct formation of nanostructures and can also create silicon films for applications such as pressure sensors for ships.

The developers assure that the films created using this facility are superior in reliability and sensitivity compared to those produced by liquid or laser etching methods. They emphasize that this is a domestically produced product.

The cost of the second installation has not been disclosed by its creators.

Artem Osipov, head of the "Material Technologies" laboratory at SPbPU, stated that the complex, consisting of two devices developed internally at the university, can extend the lifespan of radar equipment by over 20 times. This information was shared with CNews by the "Electronics Products" department at St. Petersburg Industrial University. Additionally, if the equipment is used for the production of solar panels, it could potentially reduce their weight and size, and enable them to operate efficiently even on overcast days.

The specific interest of Russian chip manufacturers in this new installation has not been confirmed, and there is no current indication of when it might be applied to actual production. In the meantime, the inventors continue to improve the lithography complex, with plans to equip the two devices with artificial intelligence, although the specific tasks it will address are not yet specified.

St. Petersburg Polytechnic University is not the only Russian university working on advanced lithography solutions. In October 2022, CNews reported that the Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IPF RAS) in Nizhny Novgorod had begun work in this direction.

At that time, scientists at IPF RAS had already created a demonstration sample of the first device for producing ultra-small nano microelectronic devices in Russia, capable of achieving a resolution of up to 7 nm on substrates.

The institute plans to develop an industrial prototype of a domestically produced 7-nanometer lithography machine within six years, with the "Alpha machine" expected to be created by 2024. This device will be capable of performing the entire operational cycle.

A "test machine" is scheduled to appear in 2026, featuring improved equipment and higher resolution, productivity, and automation. This machine will be suitable for large-scale production.

By 2026-2028, the Russian domestic lithography machine will receive a more powerful radiation source, improved positioning and feed systems, and will commence full-scale operation.

Nikolai Chkhalo, Deputy Director of the Institute of Microstructure Physics at the Russian Academy of Sciences, indicated that the optical system of the demonstration device has surpassed all existing similar equipment worldwide. He noted that the radiation source in the Nizhny Novgorod model is more compact during operation compared to the lithography machines of ASML, the world's largest manufacturer of such equipment. According to him, this significantly affects the cost, size, and complexity of the equipment. The efficiency of the Russian equipment will be 1.5-2 times higher than that of ASML under the same radiation source power.

As of October 2023, Russia has been unable to produce microcircuits using modern technology and has been limited to 65-nanometer structures, which became outdated nearly 20 years ago. Efforts are being made to transition to 28-nanometer technology, but this process has already lost relevance, with plans to move towards 3-nanometer technology by 2023.

As described, IPF RAS is striving to narrow the substantial gap between Russia and other countries by developing the first domestically produced lithography machine capable of producing 7 nm chips. However, this endeavor will take several years, and the equipment may not be fully operational until 2028.

In March 2023, CNews reported that the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade ordered the development and production of lithography materials for microelectronics, particularly photoresist production. The ministry allocated 1.1 billion rubles for this work, designated as the "Photodecomposition" project. The relevance of this initiative stems from Russia's lack of development and production of similar materials.

Under the research and development efforts initiated by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, plans include manufacturing photoresists for lithographic processes, specifically FR248-01, FR248-02, FR248-03, FR248-04, FR248-05, and two anti-reflective coatings, PA248-01 and PA248-02. The contractors are required to conduct theoretical and experimental work, test experimental batches of photoresists, and prepare for and master their production. It was stipulated that during the research and development process, samples of the developed materials must be transferred to enterprises, and conclusions regarding their parameter levels and applicability must be drawn.

The use of foreign-produced raw materials, materials, and equipment during the research and development process requires approval from the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

For Russia, these endeavors are not simple tasks.

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