In 1970, Canon introduced Japan’s first domestically made semiconductor lithography equipment, named the “PPC-1” (Projection Print Camera) and noted for evolutionary advances in camera lens technology. The world’s first projection aligner (non-contact lithography device), this unit-magnification projection exposure system achieved one-shot exposure of an entire wafer surface. The resolution was 5.0μm.
Trends in the semiconductorAmazing calculator miniaturization and cost shrinkage
By the time of the 1970 Japan World Exposition in Osaka, an era of miniaturization in semiconductor circuitry was taking place. Once powered by expensive large transistors, electronic calculators attained improved speed and memory integration as LSI evolution led to stunning shrinkage in circuit size and cost. To produce LSIs for calculators, an American semiconductor manufacturer set up a production line in Japan and started full-scale supply to Japanese calculator makers.
In 1975, Canon produced the FPA-141F, the world’s first submicron lithography equipment. Also the world’s first stepper, this system enabled precision exposure at the scale of 1μm or less (called “submicron”). In 2010, the FPA-141F was recognized by the National Museum of Nature and Science as an Essential Historical Material for Science and Technology.
Introduced by Canon in 1978, this proximity-type semiconductor lithography equipment exposed a mask and a wafer in close proximity. Since the integration level of ICs and LSIs then made was still low, Canon developed a device that achieved an optimum balance of resolution and productivity. Featuring the world’s first auto-alignment mechanism, the PLA-500FA set a bestselling record of 1,000 units shipped in five years after launch. From this product onward, laser-based auto-alignment became the industry standard for later semiconductor lithography equipment. The resolution was 2.0μm.
Trends in the semiconductorCelebrating the AE SLR camera boom
The latter half of the 1970s marked the first Group of Six summit in France and the launch of personal computers (PCs) for home use. Thanks to semiconductor circuit miniaturization, in 1976 Canon released the AE-1 — the world’s first single-lens reflex (SLR) camera with a microcomputer. Advertised with the headline “continuous shooting SLR”, this hit product inspired the AE (automatic exposure) SLR boom.
An exposure device that adopted the step-and-repeat method which later became mainstream.
Parallel Light Mask Aligner
In the early 1980s, Canon developed MPA-500FA semiconductor lithography equipment. MPA-500FA systems featured an MPA Exposure System that that would later be adopted in FPD lithography equipment.
Launched in 1984, the FPA-1500FA shaped Canon’s progress in stepper technology. Its resolution was 1.0μm. Towards the second half of the 1980s, Canon played a major role in DRAM manufacturing, establishing growth reaching approx. 50% domestic share of this field.
Trends in the semiconductorElevated performance of semiconductor circuitry
Game machines for regular households started to spread widely, and personal digital assistants (PDA), portable CD players, and other personal devices also appeared. Used in a variety of electronic products, one after another, semiconductor circuits became increasingly sophisticated.
MPA Exposure System
Abbreviation of Mirror Projection Mask Aligner. A reflective exposure system utilizing mirrors Abbreviation of Flat-panel Display
In 1986 Canon started selling the MPA-1500, its first Flat Panel Display (FPD) lithography equipment for processing 1st generation (G1) glass substrates. Mirror reflection optical system technology developed for semiconductor lithography equipment was applied in the FPD lithography equipment. Mirror projection optical systems were adopted to enable efficient production of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels that were generally patterned using contact or proximity methods. The resolution was 3.0μm.
Trends in the semiconductorDramatic emergence of organic EL technology
In the second half of the 1980s, NAND flash memory was introduced (now a built-in feature of smartphones and other devices), and organic EL used in TV monitors and various devices was also announced. By the end of the Cold War, development of lithography technologies for semiconductors and FPDs brought great changes to modern society.
Released in 1994, the first FPA-3000 series supported the golden age of semiconductors in Japan. The long-selling popular FPA-3000 series — equipped with i-line lens for 0.35 μm resolution, then highest in the world — led to the FPA-3030i5+ system currently on sale.
Trends in the semiconductorPopularization of small semiconductor circuitry and displays
Major changes in the first half of the 1990s included European Union (EU) establishment in 1993, together with key technological advances. Semiconductor miniaturization, enhanced display definition, and cost reduction powered the soaring popularity of cellular phones and PCs, bringing widespread use to offices and households.
Launched in 1997, MPA-5000 FPD lithography equipment for generation-3.5 (G3.5) glass substrates employed synchronous scanning for masks and glass substrates. Innovative MPA-5000 technology greatly enhanced LCD panel production and is still used in the latest Canon lithography equipment.
Trends in the semiconductorDynamic growth of the liquid crystal display (LCD) industry
In the second half of the 1990s, Internet use spread rapidly through society. The LCD TV display market expanded, centering on LCDs for PCs, and LCD business grew into a major industry, said to exceed 1 trillion yen. Inventions included the DVD, MP3 player, and USB memory.
In 2001, Canon introduced this KrF scanner as its main lineup system in the era of large-diameter wafers. From this product onward, Canon consistently handled cutting-edge critical layers as well as rough layers in the mainstream 300mm process. The resolution was 0.13μm. The scanner won the Grand Prix 2002 Nikkei Excellent Product Award for “Semiconductor lithography equipment with excellent processing capacity and manufacturing accuracy.”
MPA-7800 FPD lithography equipment was released in 2003, offering productivity and stability improvements over the previous MPA-7000. Compatible with 5th generation (G5) glass substrates, MPA-7800 scanners were well-received, long-selling systems with a sales period of 15 years. The resolution was 3.0μm.
Trends in the semiconductorSpotlight on high-resolution CMOS sensor development
During this period, thin LCD panels expanded in size, monitors and TVs with thin LCDs gained widespread use, and email communication via 3G* mobile devices became popular. In Canon’s camera business, lithography equipment also contributed to the development of CMOS sensors. Thanks to unique technology, Canon overcame such issues as poor sensitivity and noise that could cause pixel loss and image deterioration. Moreover, Canon realized the world’s first full-frame image sensor with 11.1 million pixels (approx.) for the large-sized CMOS sensor featured in the EOS-1Ds.
Processes requiring ultra-fine patterns
The MPAsp-H700 was Canon’s first lithography equipment for fabrication of large 8th generation (G8) glass substrates. Introduced in 2007, the MPAsp-H700 adopted the Smart-Platform body to allow processing of large G8 substrates.
Launched in 2008, the FPA-5550iZ was the bestselling i-Line Stepper of the FPA-5550 series. This has been the driving force behind Canon's overwhelming share expansion in the i-Line semiconductor lithography equipment market. The resolution was 350nm.
Trends in the semiconductorEvolution and expansion of the thin display market
In the second half of the 2000s, popular SNS and movie-sharing platforms were released for worldwide use. The market for thin flat-panel displays changed and expanded immediately due to the arrival of smartphones, as well as the transition from cathode ray tubes (CRT) to LCD/plasma displays.
FPD scanner platform that utilizes a welded structure unlike a conventional structure based on a casting method
Sales of the FPA-6300ES6a began in 2012. This bestselling KrF scanner achieved the largest shipment and sales of Canon KrF lithography equipment in history, and is still renewing these sales records. In addition, it has the only shot-shape correction function in KrF lithography equipment and has achieved the industry’s best overlay accuracy. The resolution is 90nm. The FPA-6300ESW KrF scanner is compatible with the large viewing angle of the CMOS sensors installed in many digital cameras and fully utilizes the FPA-6300ES6a to achieve the same operating rate and reliability. The resolution is 130nm.
MPAsp-E813H lithography equipment achieves high-productivity and high-reliability for processing of 6th generation (G6) glass substrates. MPAsp-E813H systems are indispensable for smartphone LCD and OLED display panels. The resolution is 1.5μm.
Trends in the semiconductorPopularization of high-definition panels and mobile terminals
During this period, smartphones immediately became widely popular with the introduction of 4G. As a result, markets expanded dramatically, for not only for memory and CPUs installed in smartphones but also for high-definition display panels used for monitors and CMOS sensors for cameras. In addition, the performance of CPUs and communication devices improved, and watching movies on mobile devices has become commonplace.
4th-generation communication standard
The world’s first mass-produced nanoimprint lithography equipment. This technological system is expected to revolutionize the semiconductor industry because line width of 15nm or less — the most advanced in the industry — can be manufactured via a simple process at low cost.
The MPAsp-H1003T lithography equipment provides performance required for production of large-screen, high-definition displays in 8th generation glass substrates (G8). The exposure area has been expanded so a 65-inch display panel can be patterned in one exposure. This FPD scanner has been indispensable in the production of 4K & 8K displays. The resolution is 2.0μm.
Trends in the semiconductorStandardized high-speed communication and cloud services
In 2019, the 5G high-speed communication system was introduced. The adoption of OLED displays on smartphones became increasingly popular. Due to the launch of various cloud services, the number of data centers for processing and storing cloud computing data has increased dramatically by this time.
nanoimprint lithography equipment
Lithography equipment that uses a method in which circuit patterns are pressed against the resin on the wafer to form electronic circuits. See here for details.
This is Canon’s first semiconductor lithography system for advanced packaging process compatible with large square substrates. The equipment enables wide-angle exposure and simultaneously realizes resolution as high as 1.0μm. Through high resolution, wide-angle exposure, and high productivity, this lithography system achieves further miniaturization, larger size, and lower cost in semiconductor packaging required for state-of-the-art AI chips.
Trends in the semiconductorDevelopment of smarter devices with semiconductor technology
Remote work capability has become widely necessary due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. With the rise of the sharing economy, it is expected that semiconductor-based smart devices, AI, and IoT will be increasingly utilized.