21 July 2005

Free to a good home

I was on the editorial review board for the new McGraw-Hill Semiconductor Manufacturing Handbook. For some obscure reason, I ended up with an extra copy. First request with a valid email address gets it. Free book rate shipping in the US; we can work something out if you want it faster or are overseas.

Update: We have a winner. Gregg, I'll be in touch via email to confirm your details. Thanks for playing, everyone.

Posted 12:32 PM

The biggest product announcements of Semicon West had to do with immersion lithography, as both ASML and Nikon announced immersion scanners.

Both companies used their announcement press conferences to snipe at their rivals. ASML's higher NA (1.2 vs. 1.07 for the Nikon system) gives them a theoretical resolution advantage, but of course I'm not in a position to actually evaluate system performance.

ASML spent a lot of time talking about their catadioptric lens design, which uses 40% less lens material than a comparable refractive design. ASML was also very proud of their water containment method, featuring among other things a nifty air curtain to keep the water from lagging behind as the stage moves. The ASML XT:1700i is targeted at 45 nm node production.

I had to leave the Nikon presentation early, so I missed the discussion of their upcoming 1.30 NA lens, planned for shipment in the second half of 2006. The new NSR-S609B system features an NA of 1.07, and is targeted at 55 nm node production and 45 nm node development. Nikon seemed especially proud of their polarizing illumination system, and of a new Tandem Stage. Not to be confused with ASML's dual exposure-stage TwinScan approach, the Tandem Stage design uses a separate calibration stage to calibrate the tool during each wafer exchange. As a result, the company claims an 80% increase in productivity from their previous generation.

Posted 11:02 AM

18 July 2005

Most defect inspection tools focus on scratches, particles, and other optically visible changes to the wafer surface. Yet chemical contamination, copper polishing residue, and other non-visible contaminants can be just as damaging. Qcept Technologies uses a Kelvin probe to measure both absolute and differential contact potential. The term "contact potential" is misleading as the probe does not actually touch the wafer. More precisely, the system monitors changes in the Fermi energy due to surface composition.

Posted 01:30 PM

Don't believe everything you read... Literary agent Deidre Knight reports that someone has sent a blanket email claiming to be her, and apparently attempting to lure aspiring writers into a scam.

For those of you who aren't writers and don't think you should care, remember that it's just as easy for bad actors to forge mail impersonating your bank, your credit card company, or even you yourself. If an offer seems to good to be true, it probably is. If someone asks for personal information via email, make absolutely sure that reply button or web link actually points where it says it does. Better yet, contact the person or organization through some other means that you control.

Posted 11:35 AM

If the FAA approves cellphone and wireless device use on airplanes, the Homeland Security Department wants to be able to monitor all voice and data traffic. This is ostensibly a security measure, to prevent use of wireless devices to coordinate hijackings or detonate explosives. Yet this massive invasion of innocent people's privacy is likely to do little or nothing to make planes more secure. Any device capable of sending a wireless data signal is also capable of encrypting that signal to foil any monitoring attempts.

(Now, I'm not thrilled about spending a six hour flight exploring the intimate details of my seatmate's personal life or business endeavors. But that's a separate issue.)

(Wall Street Journal link. Paid subscription required.)

Posted 11:16 AM

How big is Harry Potter? Well, publishers call any title that sells 500,000 copies a blockbuster. Apparently Borders alone sold 850,000 copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in the first 24 hours. That tops the 750,000 first-day copies of the previous installment, and beats all other contenders by a wide margin.

(Wall Street Journal article. Paid subscribers only.)

Posted 10:47 AM

No, I haven't abandoned the site. I just spent the last couple of weeks completely consumed by deadlines and Semicon West. Comments on the show will follow as I work through my notes, but I wanted to be sure to thank all the readers who introduced themselves. Knowing that these pages are being read is enormously motivating. Thanks for the kind words!

Posted 10:27 AM


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