Nat Ceglio: EUV Pioneer
Nat was one of the real unsung heroes of our industry. Unsung, because the early work he and his team did as prime movers of EUV in the early days have largely dropped out of the history. Most people working in EUV have never heard the name. Yet, without his perseverance, EUV may never have happened. I first heard about EUV, when I happened to sit in on a talk of his at Xerox PARC in 1988. Nat was proposing the radical idea a lens could be used focus soft x-rays (the term EUV wouldn’t be coined until the mid-nineties, when TI’s Gene Fuller came up with it at a NTRS Litho TWG workshop as a way to get under management’s radar screens, as ‘x-ray’ was dead on arrival. But this is a different story).
I immediately clung to the concept, because unlike any other NGL (Next Generation Lithography), EUV had all the features we knew were essential and plug compatible with existing semiconductor manufacturing: It was a stand-alone tool with a light source for each tool; it used reticles and optics to eliminate the intractable problems of x-ray proximity printing; and unlike e-beam direct-write, it was Moore’s Law compatible. While others were chasing solutions that only solved the problem of resolution, EUV covered it all. Of course, no one would have any solid idea just how difficult it would be until the mid-nineties.
The technology came out Lawrence Livermore National Labs as an outshoot of work on fusion nuclear energy. Nat had a PhD in nuclear science and engineering from MIT and would become an authority in the fields of plasma physics, lasers, optics and extreme ultraviolet lithography. AT&T was secretly working with LLNL at the time, with hopes of commercializing the technology, along with a second technology called Scalpel. But they ran into trouble and had to back out. Nat managed to forge a CRDA with about $250 to move it further along. Ultimately, the technology bounced from there to Ultratech and ultimately ASML, as we know today. Nat also left, moving to Ultratech as VP of Engineering and at KLA-Tencor as VP of Advanced Technology.
Of course there have been many others who have made EUV possible. This is especially true from a technical perspective, as the earliest work at LLNL dates back to the early 80’s. And then there was the work of Hiroo Kinoshita in Japan at NTT. I remember reading his work in Nikkei Microdevices. This was quite a shock to many in the U.S., who thought Japan was totally focused on proximity X-Ray and were taking a leading role (which was the English publication version of reality). But it’s easy to come up with ideas. What’s hard work is commercializing them and that why Nat is an unsung hero, because he was a real pioneer in getting EUV on a path to commercialization.
- G. Dan Hutcheson, VLSIresearch, July 28, 2017