Nanotechnology Trends at SEMICON West 2014: An Interview with Karen Savala

Interview conducted by Stuart Milne

insights from industryKaren SAVALAPresident,
SEMI Americas

Karen Salvala, President of SEMI Americas, talks to AZoNano about SEMICON West 2014 and it's position in the nanotechnology sector.  

SM: SEMI has been known as the association for the semiconductor equipment and materials industry. Where does nanotechnology fit into that?

KS: The semiconductor industry has been the highest volume maker of nanoscale devices for years with high-volume manufacture of structures of less than 100nm for a decade. But now that the sector is moving to 14nm structures, the unique nano-scale properties of materials have become a crucial issue.  Atomic-level control of film composition and thickness, in things like strained silicon and high-k/metal gate structures, now determines fundamental characteristics of electron mobility and leakage. Scaling to 5nm next generation devices will mean nano-scale material properties will largely determine performance, whether in epitaxial growth of compound semiconductor materials on silicon, or nanowire gate-all-around devices.

As the global industry association for the advanced technology manufacturing supply chain, SEMI supports the greater semiconductor industry’s device makers and their equipment and materials suppliers. Our members include many companies who have long had a fundamental role in developing and applying nanotechnology manufacturing materials, processes, and inspection and metrology solutions.

SM: What types of activities or programs do you have geared towards nanotechnology?

KS: SEMI core activities include the organization of industry conferences, trade events and other forums as well as the development of international industry standards, industry research and statistics, information, and advocacy on various issues of importance to members.  To the degree that nanotechnology is intimately intertwined with advanced semiconductor manufacturing processes, many SEMI programs are directly relevant to the scope and interests of nanoelectronics and nanomaterials.

SEMI membership benefits that are equally applicable to those participating in the realm of nanotechnology include:

  • Access to buyers, markets and emerging trends
  • Market intelligence to help guide investment decisions
  • Industry standards that reduce cost and speed commercialization
  • Influence on industry technology roadmaps
  • Business and technical education around the globe
  • Impact on regulatory and public policy decision-makers in support of industry goals
  • Advancing fair and open access to global markets
  • Promote Best Practices in EHS, IP, workforce development and other areas

SM: Are there some industry trends you’ve found that you can share with us?

KS: The semiconductor industry is poised for a cyclic growth year.  Overall semiconductor sales are expected to increase 5-10% and the market for semiconductor manufacturing equipment could grow in the range of 20% following two years of spending decreases.

From a technology perspective, the complexity of sustaining Moore’s Law will drive continued nanotechnology research and development in the semiconductor industry. As chip structures get down below 10nm, the industry will need to turn to disruptive solutions that depend on nanoscale materials properties.  

Image credit: Thinkstock

SM: SEMICON West will be opening in San Francisco this July. What types of opportunities do you offer there for people involved in the field of nanotechnology?

KS: SEMICON West 2014 programs aim to bring key parties across the supply chain together to discuss the current challenges and opportunities at the leading edge of commercial semiconductor-related manufacturing technology, which increasingly means controlling material properties at the atomic and molecular level. Because the greater semiconductor technology sector — including related areas like MEMS, silicon photonics and photovoltaics — has long been one of the major volume users of nano-scale deposition, patterning, metrology and inspection processes, this big annual U.S. event typically draws the major electronics sector nanotechnology users and suppliers and about 27,000 attendees to its technical programs, exhibit floor, and networking events. 

SM: What will be the main topics discussed during this conference?

KS: Two key nanotechnology themes run through many of this year’s 50 hours of wide ranging programs at SEMICON West.  First is the challenge of scaling structures down to 10nm-5nm for the next generation of semiconductor devices, where companies are looking seriously at disruptive nanotechnology solutions.   At the Semiconductor Technology Symposium (STS), major chip makers will discuss the status of alternative approaches including directed self-assembly of block co-polymers, carbon nanotubes, and nanowires.  SEMI offers many informative sessions visitors can attend including “Getting to 5nm Devices: Evolutionary Scaling to Disruptive Scaling and Beyond” and “Readiness of Advanced Lithography Technologies for HVM.” STS is a new paid program at SEMICON West: limited (reserved) seating is available; conference format with premium content and lunch included. Price is higher onsite.

The Metrology technology session will focus on the evolving issues of inspecting and measuring nanoscale structures with the requisite speed and reliability for volume production.  The Materials TechXPOT program will look at the evolving materials for next generation memory.

A second theme is the role of nanoscale materials properties in enabling the integration of different materials and different devices into stacks and modules that function much as a single unit.  Packaging programs look at 3D bonding and stacking of devices, while sessions on Silicon Photonics and Compound Semiconductors discuss issues of combining compound semiconductor materials with silicon.

In conjunction with SEMICON West 2014, the Silicon Innovation Forum, organized by leading strategic investment groups in the global semiconductor industry, connects early-stage technology companies and prospective investors from industry and the investment and venture capital community.

SM: Where can our readers find out more about SEMICON?

KS: They can visit http://www.semiconwest.org for more information.

About SEMI

SEMI is the global industry association serving the nano- and micro-electronic manufacturing supply chains. Our 1,900+ member companies are the engine of the future, enabling smarter, faster and more economical products that improve our lives. Since 1970, SEMI has been committed to helping members grow more profitably, create new markets and meet common industry challenges. SEMI maintains offices in Bangalore, Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Grenoble, Hsinchu, Moscow, San Jose, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, and Washington, D.C.  For more information, visit www.semi.org.

About Karen Savala

Karen Savala is president of SEMI Americas. Savala assumes responsibility for the association’s Americas programs, including events, products and services. She is responsible for relationships with SEMI members as well as industry, government and academia in the region. Savala joined SEMI in 1984 and has served in numerous managerial and executive roles, including positions in International Standards, executive programs, publishing, and outreach and membership. She established the “Voice of the Customer” program which helped drive product and service improvements to improve SEMI member satisfaction. Savala earned a business management and communications degree from San Jose State University in San Jose, California.

Date Added: May 28, 2014 | Updated: May 30, 2014
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