Photolithography is limited by the wavelength of light. Below 160 nanometers, UV is not light, but ionizing radiation. So at some point, have to switch from photolithography to contact lithography, such as imprint lithography, or direct contact printing. But did they stop shrinking stuff before we reached that limit? That they are lying about it suggests moral decay, rather than exhaustion of the low hanging fruit.
Current photolithography is stuck using UV at 193 nanometers. Could they have gone lower?
Nitrogen and fused quartz, which they are already using, is good down to 160 nanometers. They are using water for their high refractive index fluid, and water becomes opaque below 193. Perfluorocarbons, however are good all the way down to 160 nanometers. So they did not push current technology to its final limit. It was not exhaustion of the low hanging fruit that caused the current alarmingly indefinite pause in Moore’s law.
My prediction is that if humans resume technological advance, will resume in China, and will resume using contact lithography or direct contact printing, as there is little point in recreating from scratch a technology that has reached its ultimate limit. And if humans don’t resume technological and scientific advance, it will be a long, slow, painful and messy descent into a dark age, until harsh conditions cause natural selection to resume.