A roadmap extending far beyond the current 22nm CMOS node has been presented several times.  This roadmap
includes the use of a highly regular layout style which can be decomposed into "lines and cuts." The "lines" can be
done with existing optical immersion lithography and pitch division with self-aligned spacers. The "cuts" can be done
with either multiple exposures using immersion lithography, or a hybrid solution using either EUV or direct-write ebeam.[
4] The choice for "cuts" will be driven by the availability of cost-effective, manufacturing-ready equipment and
Optical lithography improvements have enabled scaling far beyond what was expected; for example, soft x-rays (aka
EUV) were in the semiconductor roadmap as early as 1994 since optical resolution was not expected for sub-100nm
features. However, steady improvements and innovations such as Excimer laser sources and immersion photolithography
have allowed some manufacturers to build 22nm CMOS SOCs with single-exposure optical lithography.
With the transition from random complex 2D shapes to regular 1D-patterns at 28nm, the "lines and cuts" approach can
extend CMOS logic to at least the 7nm node. The spacer double patterning for lines and optical cuts patterning is
expected to be used down to the 14nm node. In this study, we extend the scaling to 18nm half-pitch which is
approximately the 10-11nm node using spacer pitch division and complementary e-beam lithography.
For practical reasons, E-Beam lithography is used as well to expose the "mandrel" patterns that support the spacers.
However, in a production mode, it might be cost effective to replace this step by a standard 193nm exposure and
applying the spacer technique twice to divide the pitch by 3 or 4.
The Metal-1 "cut" pattern is designed for a reasonably complex logic function with ~100k gates of combinatorial logic
and flip-flops. Since the final conductor is defined by a Damascene process, the "cut" patterns become islands of resist
blocking hard-mask trenches. The shapes are often small and positioned on a dense grid making this layer to be the most
critical one. This is why direct-write e-beam patterning, possibly using massively parallel beams, is well suited for this
task. In this study, we show that a conventional shaped beam system can already pattern the 11nm node Metal-1 layer
with reasonable overlay margin.
The combination of design style, optical lithography plus pitch-division, and e-beam lithography appears to provide a
scaling path far into the future.