Zelenograd reported that the Russian government will allocate a budget of 670 million rubles ($8.5 million) to facilitate research on X-ray lithography. The Moscow Institute of Electronic Technology (MIET) will use these funds from the Commerce and Industry and advance plans to develop an X-ray synchrotron or lithographic machine based on a plasma source. As a result, these machines are expected to process semiconductor wafers with 28nm, 16nm and smaller designs.

Western sanctions place a heavy burden on Russia, not only on everyday products and consumer technologies, but also on semiconductors essential for domestic industry (like the military). At the end of last month, the Russian government decided to provide local research institutes with substantial funding to develop machines for domestic semiconductor production. The government is also considering ways to develop closer relations with China.

Netherlands-based ASML manufactures EUV lithography machines at the heart of highly advanced factories around the world. Companies like TSMC, Samsung and Intel are doing everything they can to supply these machines early. On the other hand, there are countries on the high-tech sanction lists: Russia and China.

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The source interestingly points out that Russia was involved in the development of EUV lithography in the 2010s. Leading scientists decided that the work could not be done in geographic isolation, so some of the research (especially regarding radiation sources) was shared and applied to ASML.

Other past work in Russia is based on the development of the synchrotron X-ray radiation source in Zelenograd in the mid-1980s. This technology was apparently developed by forward-thinking scientists for their microelectronic processing needs, but the projects somehow did not progress. All the experience will now be used in newly funded X-ray lithography research, with the devices said to be ready by 2023.

X-ray lithography research will start from November 2022. In the intervening time, the proposed technical specifications and feasibility studies for prototype X-ray lithography machines will be completed. According to Dyuzhev, we have to wait five years or more for test production using any new X-ray lithography machine.

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Michael Lewis

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