Sales of Nikon NSR Series Stepper Reaches 5,000 Units
Nikon Corporation is proud to announce that total sales of NSR Series step-and-repeat exposure systems (known in the industry as steppers) reached 5,000 units as of 1996-12-31. Steppers are used in one of today's most critical industries : the manufacture of ICs (Integrated Circuits).
The Nikon NSR Series steppers units -- the world's best-sellers -- are at work in semiconductor manufacturing sites in Japan and other parts of Asia, the U.S., Europe and many other countries.
In addition to the manufacture of ICs, NSR Series steppers are also being used to manufacture high-definition liquid crystal displays (TFT-type LCDs) for use in personal laptop computers, and to produce advanced magnetic heads that are essential for enhancing the memory of hard-disk drives.
Overview of NSR (Nikon Step-and-Repeat Exposure system) Series Steppers
The manufacturing of ICs is a complex process requiring many types of equipment, one of the most crucial being the stepper.
The stepper is used in the exposure process to etch the extremely fine circuit patterns that are printed onto the circuit wafers.
It works like this: first, light is exposed on a reticle (the master plate of a circuit pattern) inside the stepper, and the illuminated pattern is demagnified through a reduction projection lens after which it reaches the silicon wafer that serves as the substrate of the IC.
After each exposure, the wafer is moved minutely, whereupon the stepper re-exposes it until the circuit pattern is printed across the entire wafer surface.
While the actual principle on which the stepper operates is not that complex (it works as a photographic enlarger in reverse), the device represents the accumulation of many leading-edge technologies -- such as those needed to produce reduction projection lenses, water stage control technology, and more.
It is this combination of technologies that make the stepper what some have called "the most precise machine in history."
In fact, NSR steppers offer a degree of precision down to the nanometer level, and this has enabled the production of VLSIs denser than 256K bits.
Total sales of Nikon NSR Steppers
1,000 units: 1987-08
2,000 units: 1989-09
3,000 units: 1992-09
4,000 units: 1995-03
5,000 units: 1996-12
- The information is current as of the date of publication. It is subject to change without notice.