|[June 29, 2014]
Gigaphoton Develops World's First Helium-Free Purge Process for ArF Immersion Lasers
OYAMA, Japan --(Business Wire)--
Inc., a major lithography light source manufacturer, announced today
that it has succeeded in the development of an innovative purge process,
one that does not use the rare gas helium, for its flagship "GT Series"
of ArF immersion lasers. Evolving its leading-edge "Green Innovations"
environmental technologies, this innovative helium-free purge process
enables significant reduction of helium consumption for lithography
Since its establishment in 2000, Gigaphoton has consistently focused on
achieving the highest levels of output power, performance, and stability
in the industry, as well as saving on power consumption to deliver the
higher efficiency required for environmentally conscious "green fab."
Recently, an unstable supply and a price rise of helium gas have
triggered Gigaphoton to work on development of the purge process that
does not use helium, teaming up with a leading device manufacturer and a
scanner manufacturer. At completion of evaluating the process
performance at a Japanese device manufacturer, Gigaphoton has proven
that this innovative purge process can be used for volume production.
On Earth, helium is a rare gas - 5.2 ppm by volume in the atmosphere. It
is mainly mined as a byproduct when natural gas is mined. Helium has
been used in various industries, including for medical equipment, linear
motor cars, and semiconductors, and is indspensable for modern life.
But consumption of helium in manufacturing has been increased
dramatically, and it is forecast that our helium supply will be depleted
in approx. 25 years if consumption continues at the current rate. So,
the unstable supply and price rise of helium has become a serious issue
Gigaphoton recognizes that this issue produces a negative impact upon
the entire industrial world. The company has considered how to use a gas
substituting for helium as early as possible in order to reduce helium
consumption for the purge process and thus help to conserve the helium
supply for other industries that require helium more seriously, thus
making a great contribution to the industrial world.
Helium is used as a purge gas for optical component modules within a
laser light source. It removes active gases and impurities generated
within the modules to prevent optical components from being damaged. One
laser unit consumes approx. 80-160 kiloliters of helium per year.
Therefore, all the laser light sources currently operating worldwide
consume approx. 100,000 kiloliters of helium annually.
Instead of helium, Gigaphoton has developed, for the first time in the
world, the purge process that uses nitrogen, an inert gas that accounts
for approx. 78% of the atmosphere, with a stable supply, and proven that
the process can maintain laser performance at the same level as that
"As a laser supplier supporting the semiconductor manufacturing, we will
strive to maintain a stable production environment and stay active to be
conscious of global environment and whole industries," said Hitoshi
Tomaru, President and CEO of Gigaphoton Inc. "We are committed to
proceeding with our EcoPhoton™ program to make further contributions to
greening of the semiconductor industry."
About the EcoPhoton™ Program
The EcoPhoton™ program is a roadmap started in 2003 to implement Green
Innovations, focusing on detailed analyses of three key
cost-of-ownership (CoO) metrics: cost of consumables (CoC), cost of
downtime (CoD), and cost of environment (CoE). The program aims at
achieving continuous reduction of these costs by developing innovative
Since it was founded in 2000, Gigaphoton has developed and delivered
user-friendly, high-performance DUV laser light sources used by major
semiconductor chipmakers in the Pan-Asian, US and European regions.
Gigaphoton leads the way with cost-effective, highly productive
lithography sources for high-volume production. With a global business
outlook, Gigaphoton strives to be the world's number-one lithography
light source provider, focusing on end-user needs in every phase of its
business - from research and development to manufacturing, to
best-in-class reliability and world-class customer support.
For more information, please visit www.gigaphoton.com.
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