Can a fab be built in space? The United States has successfully tested the space EUV lithography technology

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 Can a fab be built in space? The United States has successfully tested the space EUV lithography technology


Last November, astronauts on the international space station used a payload from astrileux to perform lithography experiments on the stations external platform. The purpose of the experiment is to determine whether it is possible to capture solar EUV radiation by using astrileuxs EUV coating. These materials form the basis of Optics and mirrors for EUV lithography tools with a wavelength of 13.5nm.

Experiments show that the solar EUV radiation can be captured by the EUV coating of astrileux. One day, materials from astrileux could become a new kind of space instrument. It also lays the foundation for the future space lithography technology based on EUV, which uses the energy of solar radiation as the light source.

The international space station was first put into operation in 2000. It is a modular space laboratory and a cooperation between the aerospace agencies of the United States, Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada. On the international space station, astronauts conduct scientific experiments in astronomy, cosmology, meteorology and physics.

Making chips and components is another interesting topic in space. To achieve the goal of long-term human survival in the sky, we need to build an ecosystem of electronic manufacturing to support localization and self-sustaining communities on the international space station, said Supriya jaiswal, chief executive of astrileux. Astronauts at work can quickly prototype electronics as needed to create new capabilities on the international space station, including the ability to enhance computing power and build new smart devices, as well as the ability to quickly repair old or damaged electronic devices that may occur in high-risk operations.

Its hard to imagine that a factory with a large EUV will be built on the international space station or even on the moon or Mars. But in the future, it is feasible to develop small-scale Fabs or micro Fabs in space.

To do this, spacecraft or space colonies will need 3D printers and Fab tools, as well as patterning of chips. This is where collaboration with astrileux, the center for space science development and the nano racks is needed. The space science development center is the administrator of the National Laboratory of the international space station, a US government funded laboratory.

The aerospace company has installed two research platforms at the U.S. National Laboratory on the international space station. According to the nacelle, each platform can hold up to 16 CubeSat size payloads. The payload of each cube satellite is a four inch cube.

In order to carry out the experiment, astrileux designed the payload and incorporated it into the cube satellite of the nano capsule. Cube satellites include internal and external components of the astrileux payload.

Last November, astronauts on the international space station installed the astrileux payload in an airlock and automatically loaded it onto an external platform, before the experiment was activated. Part of the CubeSat is exposed to sunlight, allowing astrileuxs EUV coating to capture enough solar radiation. This project studies how EUV materials can withstand degradation in extreme radiation environment.

In the experiment, astrileux materials successfully demonstrated the wavelength range of EUV (10nm-20nm). Astrileux has created a new EUV optical coating that can survive in extreme radiation environments, and can effectively capture EUV radiation at 13.5nm and other EUV wavelengths, jaiswal said

In view of this result, some day, these materials will also have new applications. First, it could pave the way for new space instruments capable of capturing EUV radiation. Astrileuxs new EUV optics lay the foundation for new designs of optical systems used in space exploration, solar radiation imaging, telescopes, star systems and space systems, jaiswal said

There are other new and future applications. The purpose of this experiment is to lay the foundation for space electronics manufacturing at 7Nm and below. The astrileux payload measures and captures EUV solar radiation at a wavelength of 13.5nm lithography as it travels around the earth, jaiswal said. In general, EUV lithography tools with powerful light sources are used to graph wafers at the required wafer yield. However, this payload can measure and capture the natural solar EUV radiation that can be used to compose a silicon wafer.

Traditional EUV optics may take more than 100 days to graph a single chip, while astrileux optics can ultimately reduce the time to less than 10 hours. This, in turn, makes wafer graphing and manufacturing a viable concept in small communities in space.