Located in western Japan, Toshiba Memory Corporation’s Yokkaichi Operations plant stands at the forefront of semiconductor memory production. Here, verification is underway for the application of Canon’s nanoimprint technology for the mass production of semiconductor devices. The miniaturization of circuit patterns has brought dramatic improvement to semiconductor memory performance and capacity. In recent years, however, the conventional approach of using light to transfer the circuit patterns onto chips appears to be approaching a technological limit. To overcome this hurdle to further miniaturization, Canon has developed semiconductor lithography equipment that employs an innovative approach called nanoimprint lithography, which is gaining recognition not only for its nano-level precision, but also for the relative compactness of the equipment used, which can significantly reduce semiconductor manufacturing costs.
Nanoimprint lithography equipment designed for mass production of semiconductor devices
Development of nanoimprint technology at Canon Utsunomiya Optical Products Plant
With the advent of the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), where everything will be connected to the internet, all kinds of objects will be equipped with such semiconductor devices as sensors and communication devices, memory for data storage and processors for AI that analyze big data. Demand is ever increasing for these semiconductor devices as they become even more vital to society.
Semiconductor devices evolve through miniaturization, or narrowing the circuit line widths and increasing the density of circuit patterns on the device. Advances in semiconductor lithography equipment are the key to achieving this miniaturization and reducing manufacturing costs. Conventionally, miniaturization was achieved by shortening the wavelength of the light source used when exposing the device. The technological limit of this method, however, appears to have been reached, making an innovative new approach necessary.
Canon, together with Canon Nanotechnologies, has developed a method that eliminates the projection lens used to reduce and project circuit patterns, replacing it with a mold, called a mask, onto which circuit patterns are transferred. The mask is pressed like a stamp onto a resist on the wafer surface and Canon’s state-of-the-art control and measuring technologies, which we have cultivated through the development of semiconductor lithography equipment, make it possible to faithfully reproduce high-resolution patterns. What’s more, this approach is less complex than conventional methods, which allows the equipment to be more compact.
To commercialize this nanoimprint lithography equipment, Canon developed technologies that ensure nano-level defect control, overlay accuracy and the elimination of foreign particles. Even compared with the latest conventional lithography technology—Extreme Ultraviolet, or EUV—our nanoimprint systems can significantly reduce manufacturing costs. Expectations are high that this equipment will serve to manufacture the next generation of flash memory.
Development of die bonders at Canon Machinery (above)
Canon Anelva’s ultra-high vacuum technology enables nano-level thin-film deposition (below)
The industrial equipment produced by the Canon Group supports manufacturers in various fields, including semiconductors and electronic devices. Canon Tokki continues to be the industry leader in Organic LED (OLED) panel manufacturing equipment. The demand for OLED panels is rapidly growing and Canon Tokki’s manufacturing equipment ensures high efficiency and high quality. Eyeing further growth, this Canon Group company is developing new technologies that will enable even further leaps ahead in image resolution and productivity.
Canon Machinery possesses proprietary die-bonding technologies and a wide-ranging lineup of die bonders, the equipment used for bonding semiconductor die to a substrate. From semiconductor manufacturing equipment to automated and labor-saving systems, this Group company produces one-of-a-kind solutions to meet various customer needs.
Canon Anelva’s expertises lie in vacuum thin-film deposition technology, which is used in the fabrication of semiconductor and communication devices, and in sputtering equipment, which is essential to the production of hard disk drives (HDD) and LEDs.
At the forefront of various fields of manufacturing, the Canon Group’s industrial equipment has come to play a vital role in the world of IT. At the same time, by integrating the image recognition and information processing technologies that we have cultivated through the development of cameras and multifunction devices, we have begun to commercialize 3D machine vision systems that can distinguish different objects with high precision and make picking from randomly piled parts possible. We are developing this type of system for use in visual inspection processes, which should contribute to automation and labor-saving at manufacturing sites.
On June 23, 2017, the CE-SAT-I, a micro satellite developed and manufactured by Canon Electronics, was launched from India and safely made it into Earth’s orbit. The satellite weighs only 65 kilograms and benefits from electronic and optical technologies from across the Canon Group. Photos of the Earth captured by onboard Canon EOS and Power-Shot digital cameras are transmitted to the ground one after another, and using the valuable information from these high-resolution images, we are taking a bold first step toward an expansive space business.