DNP Strengthens Nanoimprint Lithography Template Volume Productions System

Will invest four billion yen in 10nm scale 3D NAND flash memory

Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP) will make a four billion yen capital investment in 10nm scale nanoimprint lithography (NIL1) templates, aiming to strengthen volume production systems in the face of forecasts for increased demand, in addition to realizing lower costs. NIL templates are used when configuring the circuit patterns of 3D NAND flash memories that are the memory media in digital products, and DNP boasts a longstanding focus on NIL template provision and development.

[Capital Investment]

Demand for NAND flash memory has undergone sharp increases in recent years. In particular, 3D NAND flash memory stacks memory cells vertically, making it possible to achieve dramatic expansions in data capacity, and as a result is forecast to see significantly increased demand from smartphones and data centers. NAND flash memory saw around US$30 billion in shipments in 2015, which is expected to rise to US$50 billion by 2018, with 70% of that figure expected to be accounted for by 3D NAND flash memory2. At the same time, with current photolithography technology-based semiconductor manufacturing techniques, it is difficult to respond to demands for complicated 3D structured processes, presenting the challenge of high cost manufacturing equipment and higher cost production.

With NIL-driven manufacturing methods, however, it is possible to directly transfer and replicate the circuit pattern from the template, facilitating manufacture on relative low cost lithography devices, without having to use high cost optical equipment. Innovative 3D NAND flash memory-based semiconductor manufacturing techniques are also in the spotlight as they are seen leading to cost reductions of approximately 30% compared to current photolithography technology-based manufacturing techniques.    

[Strengthened Volume Production]

DNP has developed the templates necessary for the NIL process since 2003. In addition to engaging in joint development with Toshiba Corporation and Canon Inc., since 2009, the Company has also made investments of seven billion yen to date, and in 2015 established a mass production system for 20nm node templates. DNP has also successfully developed a master template that serves as the original production master for 10nm scale NIL plates, and replica templates reproduced from the master template.   

Global semiconductor manufacturers are strengthening NIL-driven semiconductor manufacturing techniques along with production systems, in answer to demands for reducing 3D NAND flash memory manufacturing costs and further miniaturization. In order to stay abreast of such developments, in this latest development DNP will make capital investments amounting to four billion yen in multi-beam lithographic devices that perform high resolution, high speed EB lithography, and dry etching related process equipment, aiming to strengthen mass production systems in response to increased NIL template demand.    

[Looking Ahead]

DNP aims for sales of approximately 10 billion yen from NIL templates in 2019, by strengthening development and production systems in answer to demands for further miniaturization and lower cost semiconductors.

1: A microfabrication technique capable of the stable and low cost transfer of nano meter to micro meter level patterns by compressing metal molds into the resist on the surface of the substrate.
2: According to forecasts from Gartner Inc.
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