Imec to Construct Experimental Line for Mastering Processes Thinner Than 2 nm

Imec, a Belgium-based firm, is among the first to gain access to ASML’s state-of-the-art lithographic equipment with high numerical aperture value. They are also partnering with Rapidus to assist the consortium in establishing 2-nm chip production in Japan by 2027. Built with subsidies from EU authorities, Imec will set up a pilot line in Belgium for mastering technology processes thinner than 2 nm.

This development coincides with the European Union’s decision to allocate €2.5 billion in subsidies to Imec and other regional research organizations. As part of the European ‘Chip Act’ enacted in 2023, regional authorities can distribute up to €43 billion in subsidies aimed at bolstering the local semiconductor industry. The establishment of Imec’s experimental production line is significant for the global semiconductor industry, but local authorities hope that its inception on Belgian soil will expedite the implementation of advanced lithographic technologies at regional events.

Imec’s project collaborators include chip manufacturing equipment and material providers from around the world. The Netherlands-based ASML has pledged to invest €1.1 billion of its resources. Belgian authorities and several other European countries will additionally invest about €1.4 billion in the creation of the pilot line, named NanoIC.

Successful cases of European chip manufacturers receiving such subsidies are not abundant yet. The France-bound company STMicroelectronics has managed to secure €2.9 billion of government support, while American Intel and Taiwanese TSMC are still awaiting their subsidy grants for factory construction in Germany. Nevertheless, TSMC claims that it will commence its construction by the fourth quarter of this year. The so-called ESMC’s shareholders will consist of three European companies, namely NXP, Bosch, and Infineon, each owning a 10% stake in the joint venture with TSMC.

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