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extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL)

Extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) is an advanced technology for making microprocessors a hundred times more powerful than those made today. Intel, AMD , and Motorola have joined with the U.S. Department of Energy in a three-year venture to develop a microchip with etched circuit lines smaller than 0.1 micron in width. (Today's circuits are generally .18 micron or greater.) A microprocessor made with the EUVL technology would be a hundred times more powerful than today's. Memory chips would be able to store 1,000 times more information than they can today. The aim is to have a commercial manfacturing process ready before 2005.

EUVL is one technology vying to replace the optical lithogaphy used to make today's microcircuits. It works by burning intense beams of ultraviolet light that are reflected from a circuit design pattern into a silicon wafer. EUVL is similar to optical lithography in which light is refracted through camera lenses onto the wafer. However, extreme ultraviolet light, operating at a different wavelength , has different properties and must be reflected from mirrors rather than refracted through lenses. The challenge is to build mirrors perfect enough to reflect the light with sufficient precision. Intel is working on some early prototypes. In the meantime, optical lithography will continue to advance over the next few years until replaced by newer technologies such as EUVL.

This was last updated in March 2011

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