New de­vice to help China pro­duce its own nano prod­ucts

Global Times - Weekend - - NATION - By Liu Caiyu

A new de­vice us­ing nan­otech­nol­ogy will boost China’s abil­ity to man­u­fac­ture mi­crochips used in sen­sors and op­ti­cal in­stru­ments, the deputy chief de­signer said on Fri­day.

Hu Song, deputy chief de­signer of the project, told the Global Times on Fri­day that pho­tolithog­ra­phy is a key tech­nique used to cre­ate cir­cuitry pat­terns on chips. It is used in the man­u­fac­tur­ing of mi­crochips and op­ti­cal in­stru­ments.

The pho­tolithog­ra­phy de­vise, de­vel­oped by the In­sti­tute of Op­tics and Elec­tron­ics un­der the Chi­nese Academy of Sciences (CAS), was of­fi­cially ap­proved on Thurs­day.

The ma­chine is the core equip­ment used to man­u­fac­ture mi­crochips, a field in which China has long been lagged be­hind. The suc­cess­ful de­vel­op­ment of the de­vice will help the coun­try over­come in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty bar­ri­ers set by for­eign coun­tries.

Ear­lier this year the US abruptly barred the ex­port of US-made mi­crochip to Chi­nese tech gi­ant ZTE, which was al­most forced to shut down.

The new ma­chine uses a photo-like print­ing tech­nique to trans­fer a fine pat­tern onto sil­i­con wafers. The ma­chine can etch cir­cuitry pat­terns of less than 22 nanome­ters us­ing ul­tra­vi­o­let light. It can pro­duce chips with cir­cuitry of 10 nanome­ters with its dou­ble ex­po­sure tech­nol­ogy, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment sent to Global Times by the CAS.

The cost of each pho­tolithog­ra­phy ma­chine will be be­tween 10 mil­lion ($1.4 mil­lion) and 20 mil­lion yuan. The fu­ture mar­ket po­ten­tial is huge but cur­rently it can­not re­place the pho­to­en­grav­ing ma­chine us­ing in­te­grated cir­cuit tech­nol­ogy that is pro­duced by Dutch com­pany ASML Hold­ing, Hu told the Global Times.

Work still needs to be done to im­prove the ma­chine’s ef­fi­ciency, over­lay ac­cu­racy and pro­duc­tion yield, Hu said, adding “Slow work yields fine prod­ucts.”

The tech­nol­ogy is al­ready be­ing used by some in­sti­tu­tions in China, in­clud­ing China Aerospace Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Cor­po­ra­tion, the Huxi Hos­pi­tal af­fil­i­ated with Sichuan Uni­ver­sity and the Uni­ver­sity of Elec­tronic Sci­ence, the state­ment reads.

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