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Posted: July 1, 2009
Dai Nippon Printing and Molecular Imprints Team to Accelerate Commercialization of Nanoimprint Lithography
(Nanowerk News) Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP), a leading producer of semiconductor photomasks, and Molecular Imprints, Inc., a market and technology leader for nanopatterning systems and solutions, today announced that they have entered into a strategic collaboration agreement to speed the commercialization of nanoimprint lithography for high-volume semiconductor device manufacturing. Under the terms of the agreement, DNP will provide Molecular Imprints with funding and related support for the development of a new mask replication platform designed to significantly lower imprint mask production costs - a substantial step forward in establishing the imprint technology infrastructure needed for volume-production applications.
The mask replication platform development program will utilize Molecular Imprints' innovative Jet and Flash™ Imprint Lithography (J-FIL™) technology to replicate master imprint masks at significantly higher throughputs compared to traditional mask e-beam writers-resulting in significant reductions in total mask costs to levels well below the cost for optical photomasks used today. The goal of the program is to develop mask replication technology that will be ready for commercial deployment for the 22nm half-pitch node.
The advent of current deep sub-wavelength imaging with complex mask techniques, double patterning, and limited mask lifetime due to haze have all contributed to masks becoming a major component of lithography costs for advanced semiconductor manufacturing. Now that DNP has demonstrated that 1X imprint masks can be fabricated with the existing photomask infrastructure, the advantages of low-cost replication can be brought to bear to reduce overall imprint mask cost of ownership (CoO). The master imprint mask can be faithfully and cost-effectively replicated hundreds of times using the mask replication platform now under development by Molecular Imprints with support from DNP.
"Our industry partnerships allow DNP to gain knowledge and expertise on enabling cutting-edge technologies, which in turn allow us to provide our customers with access to solutions to meet the semiconductor industry's ever-growing lithography mask demands at the earliest possible date," stated Mr. Naoya Hayashi, research fellow at DNP. "This collaboration with Molecular Imprints gives DNP an important advantage in the area of imprint lithography, and will enable us to lead the way in supporting the semiconductor industry's imprint mask needs."
"This partnership with DNP is a key component of our overall strategy to accelerate adoption of our J-FIL technology initially for advanced non-volatile memory production," stated Mark Melliar-Smith, CEO of Molecular Imprints. "DNP is a pioneer in the development and commercialization of sub-30nm half-pitch imprint masks. Through their support of our mask replication development program, DNP is helping to ensure the availability of low-cost imprint masks to address the growing global demand within the semiconductor industry for high-resolution, low cost-of-ownership lithography."
Molecular Imprints' J-FIL technology is built on the semiconductor industry's existing optical lithography infrastructure, using commercially available photomask, exposure source and resist technology. As a result, the company's imprint lithography systems are a drop-in technology suitable for mix-and-match strategies, where their resolution and cost advantages can be deployed on critical layers. Molecular Imprints' J-FIL technology offers 12nm resolution patterning in a single exposure using a simplified design and process. Imprint systems utilizing J-FIL provide a highly extendible, low CoO patterning solution for multiple design generations.
About Dai Nippon Printing
DNP is a world-class comprehensive printing company with 1.5848 trillion yen in annual revenues and approximately 40,000 employees. Based in Tokyo, Japan, DNP offers a broad range of products and services for publishing, commercial printing, smart cards, networking, and electronics components, among others. Its products in the electronics field include color filters and other components for LCDs, photomasks, PCBs and semiconductor-related components. In the photomask market DNP is a world leader, utilizing its time honored printing techniques and know-how in the fabrication of cutting-edge photomasks.
About Molecular Imprints, Inc.
Molecular Imprints, Inc. (MII) is the technology leader for high-resolution, low cost-of-ownership nanopatterning systems and solutions in the hard disk drive (HDD) and semiconductor industries. MII is leveraging its innovative Jet and Flash™ Imprint Lithography (J-FIL™) with IntelliJet™ material application technology to become the worldwide market and technology leader in high-volume patterning solutions for storage and memory devices, while enabling emerging markets in optics, biotechnology, and other industries. MII enables nanoscale patterning by delivering a comprehensive nanopatterning solution that is affordable, compatible and extendible to sub-10-nanometer resolution levels.