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Belgium's Imec, the world's largest semiconductor research institute, emphasized the need to mass produce 'High-NA' extreme ultraviolet (EUV) exposure equipment within the next three years. They pointed out that when we enter advanced processes of 2nm or less it would be difficult to implement micro-circuits without high NA EUV equipment.

During a recent announcement of Imec's roadmap, Luc Van den hove, CEO of Imec, said, “Current EUV lithography equipment can respond to 2nm levels, but we need the next version of EUV to go beyond that," and revealed that, “We will need to mass produce High-NA EUV within 3 years.” Imec is an institution that researches and develops various advanced semiconductor technologies, and is upgrading EUV technology alongside ASML and ZEISS in the semiconductor exposure process field.

High-NA, emphasized by Imec CEO Luc Van den hove, refers to improved numerical aperture (NA) of lenses and mirrors to increase the resolution of EUV exposure equipment. Improving the resolution allows for clearer light and a finer semiconductor circuit. The current numerical aperture of ASML's EUV equipment is 0.33, and it needs to achieve levels of 0.55 for high-NA.
ASML, an exclusive supplier of EUV equipment, plans to introduce its first high-NA EUV equipment as early as next year. Intel, TSMC, and Samsung Electronics are expected to account for most of the demand. Last year, Intel announced that it would introduce the world's first high-NA EUV equipment. The scheduled date is 2025. Then in June, TSMC announced that it would procure high-NA equipment as early as 2024. Intel and TSMC are expected to fiercely compete.

Samsung Electronics was the first to successfully mass produce 3nm, and they are now preparing to mass produce 2nm in 2025, in order to take the lead in the market. The need for high-NA EUV is expected to grow with each nano-level reduction. Samsung Electronics did not disclose a specific schedule in which they will introduce high-NA EUV equipment.

By staff reporter Dong-joon Kwon (