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Our history

The 1980s: humble beginnings

In 1984, Philips and Advanced Semiconductor Materials International (ASMI) created a new company to develop lithography systems. Called ASML, we began our days inauspiciously, located in a wooden shed next to a Philips building in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. That same year we launched the PAS 2000 stepper, our first system. By 1985 we grew to 100 employees and moved into futuristic-looking headquarters in nearby Veldhoven. In 1986 we brought the PAS 2500 stepper to market. With its superior alignment technology, it helped to build the reputation of some of today’s leading semiconductor manufacturers. In the same year we established our very close partnership with lens manufacturer Carl Zeiss, which endures today. By 1988 we had begun to make in-roads in the Asian market, after Philips established a joint-venture foundry in Taiwan. In the United States we grew from a few employees to 84, spread over five locations. ASMI withdrew from the ASML joint venture and was bought out by Philips.

The 1990s: from helping hand to IPO

In 1991, we launched what turned out to be our breakthrough platform, the PAS 5500, which dramatically reduced manufacturing times for our customers. In 1995, Philips sold its remaining shares and ASML became a fully independent public company, listed on the Amsterdam and NASDAQ stock exchanges. It brought in the capital to fuel our growth further. We expanded our production facilities in Veldhoven. In 2000, we acquired Silicon Valley Group and added Wilton, Connecticut as an R&D and manufacturing location.

The 2000s: TWINSCAN and immersion pave the way

In 2001, we introduced the TWINSCAN system and its revolutionary dual-stage technology. These systems expose one wafer while the next wafer is already being measured, which maximizes the productivity of the system as well as its accuracy, boosting the value of ownership for our customers. In 2007, we shipped the first immersion system (TWINSCAN XT:1900i). With this new technology, we enabled our customers to produce even smaller chip features by projecting light through a layer of water between the lens and the wafer.

Later in 2007, we acquired BRION, a leading provider of semiconductor design and manufacturing optimization solutions. This was the start of our ‘Holistic Lithography’ strategy, which expanded ASML’s knowledge of the lithography system with critical expertise to optimize the chip manufacturing before, during and after lithography. BRION’s advanced computational models and R&D teams were integrated into our Applications business line. Another key product in the early phase of ASML’s Holistic Lithography strategy was YieldStar, our metrology system which provides real-time measurements and corrections during chip manufacturing. The first YieldStar (250D) was shipped to customers in 2008.

The 2010s: the holistic era

In 2010, we shipped the first prototype Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography tool (NXE:3100) to the research facility of an Asian chip maker. Marking the beginning of a new era in lithography, EUV lithography uses light of a shorter wavelength to manufacture smaller chip features, resulting in faster, more powerful chips. To accelerate its development, a Customer Co-Investment Program was developed in 2012 with three of our key customers – Intel, TSMC and Samsung. All agreed to contribute to the R&D of next-generation lithography technologies over five years, and acquired equity stakes in the company.

In 2013, we acquired Cymer, the San Diego-based manufacturer of lithography light sources, to accelerate the development of EUV. We shipped the second generation EUV system (NXE:3300) that year, with the third generation EUV system (NXE:3350) following in 2015. EUV lithography turned the corner in 2016, when customer began ordering our first production-ready  system NXE:3400 in batches. This system could manufacture 125 wafers per hour. 

Next to EUV, we continued to improve the performance of our immersion lithography systems. The NXT1970Ci and NXT1980Di, the work horses of the chip industry, were installed in customer factories around the world.

We expanded our Holistic Lithography portfolio in 2016 with the acquisition of Hermes Microvision (HMI), a leading supplier e-beam metrology tools. The joint ASML and HMI effort resulted in the first shipment of the e-beam pattern fidelity metrology system (ePfm5) in 2017. The e-beam metrology complements ASML’s fourth-generation YieldStar 375F optical metrology system, which also first shipped in 2017.

Page updated on 2018-2-5 14:00 CET

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