09 August 2007

"OAI adds nano imprint lithography option for mask aligners"

Here's something clever, and good news for the nascent field of nanoimprint lithography-- the art of forming exceedingly small structures on planar substrates by, well, stamping 'em. The technology allows formation of much smaller and more sharply-defined structures than can be achieved via optical microlithography (the foundation of the semiconductor industry). Besides potentially enabling the semiconductor industry's next act in its methodical trudge along Moore's Law, the technique shows promise for forming useful patterned structures on next-generation disk-drive media and pole features for read-write heads, and for "laboratory on a chip" substrates for biomedical and homeland-security sensing. And it's an enabler for really groundbreaking new devices like the first room-temperature single-electron memory cell developed by Wei Wu at Princeton (where he studied under nanoimprint lithography pioneer Stephen Chou) and now at HP.

Now OAI, a semiconductor microlithography toolmaker, has mashed nanoimprint lithography into its mainstream tools as a swappable option, as reported by Small Times:
OAI adds nano imprint lithography option for mask aligners

August 1, 2007 -- OAI (Optical Associates Inc.) says that it has added to its mask aligners nano imprint lithography with sub-20 nm resolution. Working with Nanolithosolution Inc. (NLS), OAI is offering a nano imprint module as an option for all of the company's mask aligners -- which can then be used as imprint systems or as standard mask aligners (the module can be easily removed at any time). The module can be included with new orders or retrofit onto existing systems.... OAI's nano imprint module was developed by HP after years of research and development.

A nice solution, a fine differentiator for OAI (whose tools are touted for their flexibility), and a good way for deliberate and risk-averse chipmakers to position themselves to leverage this new technology.

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