Canon executive shares advances in lithography and insights into China's chip market.

Canon executive shares advances in lithography and insights into China’s chip market.

The China International Import Expo (CIIE) 2022 was held in Shanghai from November 5 to 10, with leading chipmaking equipment manufacturers such as ASML, Lam Research, Canon, and Nikon in attendance.

The presence of the latter two has been especially significant this year. ASML, a provider of photolithography, the largest chipmaking equipment, stopped serving Chinese customers after US engineers were barred from working for advanced Chinese chip houses without a license under new security measures. US chip export control has been given. Although ASML dominates. With a 90% share of the photolithography market, according to Reuters, traditional Japanese optical giants Canon and Nikon are increasingly struggling to gain a foothold in the industry. They now have an opportunity to break into the Chinese market.

Canon entered China’s semiconductor manufacturing tool business in the 1980s, shipping photolithography and other chipmaking tools to local customers. Canon currently supplies equipment to major Chinese companies, including SMIC, YMTC, and BOE, according to the company’s brochure at CIIE.

In a group interview at the expo on November 7, Canon Optical Industrial Equipment (Shanghai) Inc. Akira Makino, President and CEO spoke about the company’s lithography equipment and his vision for the Chinese market. He also spoke of his optimism despite the recent downturn in the consumer markets.

Below is a selection of interview highlights relevant to the Chinese market. The text has been translated, condensed, and edited for clarity.

About Canon’s competitive advantages
The most advanced equipment we mass-produce is krypton fluoride (KrF) lithography, which has a wavelength of 248 nm. The minimum line width it can handle is 90nm.

Creating a chip can require multiple layers, and the process is quite lengthy, but not all layers require the most dedicated team. For these “rough layers,” our KrF photolithography can do the job. We are also working on some new equipment, although it has yet to be ready for mass production.

From a technological perspective, our product fundamentally differs from our main competitors in pattern making. Nanoimprint lithography (NIL), the technology we contribute, is expected to reduce production costs, as extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography costs are currently quite high. If we can get the device ready for mass production, it would be revolutionary and greatly reduce the cost of making advanced chips.

Second, our equipment is much more energy efficient than EUVs, another huge cost advantage.

Finally, nanoimprinted patterns are printed once per layer, unlike conventional lithography, which uses complex processes such as self-aligning double patterning and self-aligning quadruple patterning (SADP/SAQP), for which patterns have more than one layer. Layer. It may be required. There may also be a productivity advantage compared to the two exposures.

canon lithograph for sale in china
The specific sales figures and unit quantities of our customers have been classified. But according to publicly available data, the Chinese market became Canon’s largest in 2020. Of course, this is not just a matter of Canon; For many semiconductor manufacturers, China is likely to be their biggest market.

In relative terms, our flat panel display (FPD) lithography and display panel manufacturing industries are concentrated in Asia. China Represents Most of the Region: China contributes most of Canon’s FPD business in FPD lithography and OLED display manufacturing equipment.

On the development of the Chinese semiconductor market in the next five years
For Canon, relationships with our customers and partners are very important. I have been in charge of the lithography business in China for 17 or 18 years. During this period, I have built a good partnership with customers in China. Some of them are domestic companies, and others are from regions like Korea, Europe, and America.

Of course, many factors cannot be controlled by companies or individuals. But Canon and I have always followed the policy that “relationship with customers is the most important thing.” We will continue to provide quality products and services to our customers and contribute to their development in the future.

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