The will be used at Sematech's research center at the state university's Albany NanoTech and is scheduled to be delivered in the fall of 2005.
The aerial image monitor tool, said to be the first to produce radiation at a wavelength of 13.5 nanometers, is used to identify and analyze defects of reticles, which are very flat glass plates that contain the patterns to be reproduced on a wafer. Reticles are also known as photomasks, which is like a negative, used to pattern tiny circuits on computer chips.
Sematech would not say how much the machine was worth. Officials called it a groundbreaking tool to help speed the development of extreme ultraviolet lithography.
Malcolm Gower, chairman and technical director of Exitech, said by 2009, the manufacturing requirements of 32 gigabit memory and 20 gigahertz process chips will call for wafers with critical features as small as 20 to 50 nanometers -- thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair.
The tool Gower's company is developing with Sematech is key to making sure the photomasks used in the process are without defect.
"Aerial image monitor tools capable of characterizing EUV reticles are an essential part of the infrastructure required to support EUV lithography," Gower said.