Huawei has patented ultraviolet light conversion technology to eliminate distortion due to interference when operating at extremely short wavelengths. This development allows it to use the 10nm process to print microchips on its own. And thus, not just to circumvent US sanctions, but to challenge the entire industry for the production of these devices.
Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography is so complex that it took 17 years and more than 6 billion euros of investments for the Dutch company ASML to create a commercial installation for its application. In it, drops of molten tin are irradiated twice with a laser – first to give them the shape of a pancake, and then to evaporate it. The result is a plasma microcloud that emits EUV light with the desired parameters. The process occurs at a frequency of 50,000 times per second.
This technology is extremely classified, only five companies around the world have access to it: Intel and Micron in the USA, Samsung and SK Hynix in South Korea and TSMC in Taiwan. Other manufacturers, such as Huawei, used to simply order chips from TSMC, but after the imposition of US sanctions, this option became unavailable. It is extremely difficult to repeat the technology, because the necessary EUV radiation balances on the border of the UV and X-ray spectrum.
However, Huawei engineers managed to find a way out by using a system of mirrors to combat the effects of interference. The initial beam is divided into “sub-beams”, which are transmitted to microscopic mirrors with individual rotation parameters. This makes it possible to control interference effects for their mutual neutralization and, as a result, to add all the “sub-beams” into a single beam with the properties required for EUV lithography