The Three Most Difficult Questions.

Whenever you meet someone with a brain as big as a planet it’s best to ask them the most difficult question you can think of.

For a quarter of a century I’ve been asking Luc Van den hove difficult questions and, like all really clever people, he uses simple language to explain complex issues.

Earlier this week, I asked him the three most difficult questions I could think of:

Will 450mm happen?
Will EUV happen?
Will Europe get 20% world market share in semiconductors by 2020?

“Several companies were pushing 450mm and some of the push has been reduced somewhat, ” replied Van den hove, “and, as a result, there’s a delay and the timing has been put back. The suppliers need to invest so much they are resisting a little bit.”

“I am a strong believer in EUV,” said Van den hove, “there’s been tremendous progress, but it’s a very difficult technology – the light source is tremendously complex. Cymer (owned by ASML) has seen a big increase in capability in the last six months.”

ASML has got the light source up 40W allowing 100 wafer/day machines. A light source of 100-120W is needed for a production machine and 250W is optimal. ASML reckons it will have 500wpd machines in 2016, but it has been overly optimistic before.

Nonetheless, Van den hove is convinced that EUV is a goer. “We have been able to live without EUV using multi-patterning technology,” he said, “for a while we can do this but, at 7nm, it will be hard to keep the cost under control without the use of EUV. EUV will definitely happen.”

“I am extremely excited about what Neelie Kroes is setting up and extremely impressed by her courage and drive to change things in Europe,” said Van den hove, “the key message is that we need a very strong focus on nanotechnology which will increase the value of the entire supply chain by doubling the impact of nanoelectronics.”

“To set a high level goal is important,” added Van den hove, “it may not be 20% but a doubling of the value of the supply chain. Manufacturing should be seen as only part of the process.”


One comment

  1. Good ones!

    But the hardest one I know to tickle an engineer’s curiousity is
    “How do you make a steam engine go backwards?”


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