Tom Hoogenboom started his career at Philips in e-beam lithography in the 1980's, working on system aspects and machine software definition. After a sidestep into Philips Medical Systems (Magnetic Resonance Imaging Software) he joined ASML in 1998 as a system engineer. Tom's focus moved to the SW infrastructure needed to control nm feature placement at the sub-nm level. Triggered by recent developments Tom is now also guiding the development of ‘remote support’ solutions, where an engineer in the field can be assisted by an expert working from home using Augmented Reality techniques.
Lithography, a key technology in semiconductor manufacturing, is data hungry. Chips are ‘made with data’. The position and shape of every pattern element on a chip must be placed on a silicon wafer with sub-nm precision. There are billions of elements per wafer. We must do this for every wafer, > million passing each ASML machine every year. Year in, year out. Chip buyer, chip maker and lithography equipment vendor have a shared interest here: to spot any deviation, however small. We must spot each deviation quickly, before it hurts. Then we must group them so we can counteract as many as possible using the available actuators. A bad marker on the wafer or a temperature drift in machine component are isolated deviations which are easily spotted. But to quickly pinpoint a complex interaction between pattern shape, wafer shape, machine condition and environmental conditions requires advanced algorithms. These algos require a year or more worth of detailed high-quality data. With this massive data, we can rule out known issues and identify new sources of variation. ASML is arranging a cloud-like platform inside the semiconductor fab (factory) to collect, associate and process this data. Keeping the ASML machines in top condition requires regular maintenance by trained field service engineers. This includes diagnostics and repair of complex issues. Accelerated by recent travel restrictions ASML is switching to remote support, using Augmented Reality techniques to allow an expert working from home to assist the service engineer in these tasks.
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