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Nikon recovering in lithography sector

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CIOL Bureau
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SAN JOSE, USA: For two leading lithography companies based in Japan – Nikon Corporation and Canon Incorporated – 2009 has been a tough year.

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However, Nikon Corporation is making efforts at recovery, especially in the time of double-patterning, according to the market research firm Gartner.

ASML Holding, based in the Netherlands, had, in 2008, bolstered its lead in the lithography stepper market. It had controlled 65.4 per cent of the revenues from the worldwide lithography stepper in 2008, compared to the 23.3 per cent of Nikon Corporation, the number 2 in the industry. Canon Incorporated, the number 3, is struggling and almost out the chip fabs sector, according to Gartner.

Analysts at Gartner also project that the overall sales of lithography stepper will drop by 54 per cent in 2009.

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Nikon had announced in May 2009 that it was planning to cut 1,000 jobs in its chip-equipment unit because of the slump in the IC market. The lithography business of Nikon is generally focused on one customer – Intel Corporation.

According to an analyst with the Tokuyo-based MF Global FXA Securities Limited, Nikon has a good chance to increase its market share when shipments of double-patterning steppers start in the spring of 2010. Nikon, the analyst adds, claims superior specs in alignment (2.0 nanometer versus 2.5 nanometer at ASML Holding) as well as in throughput (200 wafers per hour versus 170 at ASML Holding).

Nikon and Canon are rivals in the LCD stepper market, and the prospects of Nikon are strong vis-à-vis LCD steppers, according to the market research firm Gartner.

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