Financial TimesFinancial Times

The global microchip race: Europe’s bid to catch up

By Lauly Li, Alan Smith and Liz Faunce

13 Dec 2022 · 9 min read

Editor's Note

Countries around the world are competing to lead an industry that is essential for modern economies and “laced with geopolitical risk.” The FT dives deep into Europe’s effort to not be left behind.

On the edge of a tranquil forest an hour’s drive from Stuttgart, where hiking trails snake through the trees and across gently rolling hills, sits one of Europe’s secret weapons in the global race to develop the world’s most advanced semiconductors.

Oberkochen, a small town of just 8,000 people in the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg, is headquarters to Carl Zeiss SMT, the only manufacturer of the mirrors and lenses used in the world’s most advanced chipmaking equipment. Its ultra-precise mirrors and lenses are so accurate that they are capable of a precision 200 times greater than the James Webb Space Telescope.

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