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"Moore's law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years." The law basically limits the improvement in the resolution of photolithography. Why should the resolution of photolithography follow such a pattern?

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closed as off-topic by The Photon, stafusa, Sebastian Riese, Jon Custer, Aaron Stevens Oct 1 at 22:02

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    $\begingroup$ Moore's "Law" was originally an observation, and then became an industry goal driven by economics and markets. To achieve the goal the semiconductor industry roadmaps highlighted what needed to be accomplished, and $$$ were thrown at the various problems. So, the resolution of photolithography increased to meet the needs of the roadmap. No physics to the question in particular. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Oct 1 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the question relates to engineering and economics, not physics. $\endgroup$ – The Photon Oct 1 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ As someone who's worked in the semiconductor equipment industry, I agree with Jon's explanation. Moore's Law doesn't limit improvement in lithography, it drives it. $\endgroup$ – The Photon Oct 1 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ @ThePhoton - yes, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy (to great success!). Source - having been through various roadmap meetings... $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Oct 1 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ @JonCuster, I was much more at the pointy end: A bunch of big wigs had a meeting and now your device had better work by the end of the year so EUV can go into production. (The year being 2012 or so, IIRC <wink emoji>) $\endgroup$ – The Photon Oct 1 at 16:17
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Let's take three facts and combine them:

  1. Chips are generated by photolithography
  2. The number of nodes per wafer follows Moore's law.
  3. The number of nodes increases, because the "size of a node" (more precise: critical dimension) gets smaller.

Assuming that "size of a node" is limited by the optical resolution of the photolithography machine (in fact a second limitation is often the sensitivity and selectivity of the photoresist) you get the answer to "Why does the resolution of photolithography follow Moore's law?".

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  • $\begingroup$ And yes, I know that my statement is not perfect. We just have to look at the units: The resolution has the unit of length and Moore's law has the unit of chips per wafer. $\endgroup$ – Semoi Oct 1 at 16:18
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Moore's law empirically tracked the development of 1) finer-resolution photoresists, 2) higher accuracy photomasking technology, 3) precision etching and metal-deposition technology, and 4) the development of ever-larger wafers.

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