Very flat piece of glass enables atomic-level precision in optics technology

Media advisory - Veldhoven, the Netherlands, October 27, 2003

To the casual observer, it looks like a round piece of glass in a metal holder a bit larger than a hockey puck. However, the new PerfectWave metrology standard from ASML Optics enables reliable measurement of dimensions approaching the atomic scale.

Producers of semiconductors, nanotechnology devices, advanced optics and other technologies are constantly shrinking the features of their products to manufacture smaller, faster ICs. Today’s silicon chips have features as small as 90 nanometers – fewer than 1,000 atoms across – and 50 nanometer features are just a few years away. The lenses used to print these features have to be smoothed and shaped to even smaller tolerances. Engineers and scientists are finding that traditional measurement systems (based on interferometer techniques) are unable to keep up with advancing technology.

ASML’s new PerfectWave metrology standard helps solve this problem, because it is almost incomprehensibly flat – variation is just 1 nanometer, or about 10 atomic layers, across its four-inch diameter. This consistency provides a new 'gold standard' for calibration of advanced interferometer measurement systems, enabling a 5x increase in their accuracy.

The PerfectWave metrology standard is the first commercial product from ASML Optics. Founded in 2001, ASML Optics’ depth of experience comes from the former Tinsley Laboratories and Perkin-Elmer Optics Group and includes development of sophisticated optics for the Hubble Space Telescope and Micralign and Micrascan, the semiconductor industry’s first mask projection scanners.

“There are fewer than five optics shops in the world with our extreme-precision optical capability and capacity. ASML recently decided to make these our abilities available outside the company,” said Thomas Polzer, managing director, ASML Optics. “With our expertise and resources, we can manufacture the full range of optics – from leading edge to standard – and introduce a level of precision and accuracy that has not existed before in semiconductor metrology. Additionally, the PerfectWave metrology standard will also enable other industries to measure more accurately, a vital capability in the up-coming era of nanotechnology applications.”

About ASML

ASML is the world's leading provider of lithography systems for the semiconductor industry, manufacturing complex machines that are critical to the production of integrated circuits or chips. Headquartered in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, ASML is traded on Euronext Amsterdam and Nasdaq under the symbol ASML.

Contact information

  • Brittney Wolff Zatezalo
  • Corporate communications manager US
  • +14084833207