Unlocking innovation opportunities in identified Key Enabling Technologies
To boost attention toward the innovation potential of Nanotechnologies, Micro-Nanoelectronics, Photonics and Advanced materials, the European Commission branded these sectors as Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). The objective is to refocus capacity from medium-technology sectors towards opportunities in some of Europe’s most advanced industries and institutes. By 2015, Europe’s industries contributed just under a quarter of KETs-based exports, a share unchanged over the preceding decade. By contrast, investment in East-Asia generated rapid growth, gaining almost two-thirds of the world’s export markets and almost half the total number of KET patents.
Developing these four KETs requires manipulation of matter at the nanoscale, where optical measurement is critical, such as defect detection of semiconductors, photonics and nano-electronics.
However, the current approach of using shorter wavelength light to measure each generation of increasingly small devices is reaching a practical limit of corresponding reduced penetration depth. For example, solid-state device memory contains multiple layers a few microns thick, inaccessible by extreme UV-light, that barely penetrates 0.2-micron depth.
This project builds on the BeCOMe project that developed optical measurement techniques for nanoscale structures. Further methods will be developed to measure lateral features sized below 10 nm using far-field detection; diffraction-based methods; and by multiple scattering or linear structured-illumination microscopy. Other potential imaging methods will be developed, including quantum methods, to deliver spatial resolutions at 10 nm and penetration depth in the micro-metre range.
New optical metrology systems will unlock innovation opportunities for European industries and institutes, potentially offering competitive advantages in high-growth-potential global markets.