193-nm immersion lithography using water as the immersion fluid is the most promising technology candidate for achieving the 45nm HP node. We have been developing a high NA immersion exposure tool through collaboration with several companies in the industry. This paper presents the results we have obtained on various aspects of immersion exposure system development, and discusses the latest status on the issues that have been explored. In immersion lithography, leaching from resist raises concerns about lens contamination. Using a lens contamination test setup, we examined deposition that is formed on the lens surface when irradiated with a laser. It is estimated from the results that no contamination due to PAG will occur in the exposed area. The test results will be shown in detail. Using our immersion system, no defects have been found so far that are identified as bubble-induced. Therefore, we intentionally obtained bubble-induced defects by introducing micro bubbles into the immersion liquid. The findings will be discussed in this paper. Also, we established our "Immersion Evaluation Laboratory" to facilitate evaluation of all aspects of the immersion lithography process. The laboratory is equipped with (1) 193nm immersion scanner, FPA-6000AS4i with NA 0.85 and a 300mm wafer stage capable of 500mm/s scanning, (2) coater/developer, (3) defect inspection system and (4) SEM. We have performed full-wafer exposure tests using the AS4i, the result of which will be also presented.