Photo-masks used to be simple overlays used to etch chip designs on silicon, and the people who designed and made them did not enjoy the highest status among IC engineers. Researchers at DuPont Photo-masks have changed that. In fact, the lab, which is a project of DuPont with Advanced Micro Devices, Micron Technology and Motorola, is responsible in part for AMD chip’s recent speed advances. The lab has found a way to reduce the “virtual” width of a light beam, thus creating a far more precise etching instrument, by cancelling one wave of light with its opposite.
These revolutionary “phase-shifting” masks, selling for $30,000 to $50,000 with almost 40 percent margins, account for 40 percent of DuPont’s annual sales. Improvements in phase-shifting are expected to make 0.1 micron technology chips a reality within two years, and then move onto 0.013 micron chip resolution for another five years of obedience to Moore’s Law.
To read the source article, go to forbes.com.