Metrology is a fundamental aspect of semiconductor manufacturing, enabling precise measurements necessary for monitoring and controlling the quality of individual manufacturing steps. This article addresses a newly developed collaboration of Applied Materials and the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS to create the largest technology hub for semiconductor metrology in Europe.
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What is Semiconductor Metrology Analysis?
Semiconductor metrology analysis is a critical aspect of managing the semiconductor manufacturing process. With hundreds of steps involved in producing semiconductor wafers over a period of one to two months, early defects can lead to wasted efforts and resources. Metrology and inspection processes are strategically placed at critical points throughout the manufacturing process to ensure a certain yield and maintain quality.
Metrology involves precise measurements of various parameters on the semiconductor wafers, such as line width, hole diameter, and thin film thickness. These measurements, carried out using metrology equipment like CD-SEM and ellipsometers, ensure the accuracy and performance of the manufactured devices. If pattern measurements fall outside specified ranges, adjustments may be needed to ensure the circuit patterns transfer correctly.
Europe's Semiconductor Metrology Landscape
Europe has been at the forefront of technological advancements in various applications, including automotive, telecommunications, consumer electronics, and industrial automation, especially in the semiconductor industry, boasting numerous research institutions, chip manufacturers, and innovative startups.
Continuous investments in cutting-edge research and development are crucial to maintaining this competitive edge. Accurate metrology is essential for chipmakers to ensure the performance and reliability of their products while maintaining high yields. In this dynamic landscape, semiconductor metrology technologies are pivotal in driving innovation and fostering advancements.
Introduction to Applied Materials
Applied Materials is a global leader in providing equipment, services, and software solutions for advanced semiconductor manufacturing and has established itself as a key player in enabling cutting-edge technologies for semiconductor fabrication, packaging, and inspection through decades of experience. The company's eBeam metrology systems, including the VeritySEM® CD-SEM, are known for their industry-leading capabilities in precise imaging and measurement of nanoscale features on semiconductor wafers.
Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS
The Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS is a Germany-based renowned research organization that focuses on applied research in the field of microelectronics, microsystems, and photonic microsystems. Fraunhofer IPMS collaborates with numerous industrial partners, fostering innovation in semiconductor manufacturing and related technologies.
Purpose and Scope of the Technology Hub
The newly established technology hub at the Center Nanoelectronic Technologies (CNT) of Fraunhofer IPMS in Dresden aims to create a central facility equipped with Applied Materials' state-of-the-art eBeam metrology equipment. This collaboration brings together the expertise of both organizations to enhance semiconductor research and development projects across Europe. The location in Silicon Saxony, Europe's largest semiconductor cluster, adds further significance to the initiative.
Primary Goals of the Technology Hub
Accelerating Semiconductor Research
By providing access to cutting-edge eBeam metrology systems, the hub enables researchers to study semiconductor materials and structures with unparalleled precision. The availability of advanced metrology tools expedites the learning cycles in semiconductor development and leads to faster innovation.
The hub fosters collaboration between Fraunhofer IPMS, Applied Materials, semiconductor manufacturers, and ecosystem partners in Europe. The shared knowledge and resources aim to address industry challenges, validate processes, and develop new applications in a collaborative environment.
Supporting Diverse Applications
The technology hub's capabilities allow it to test and qualify processes on various substrate materials and wafer thicknesses, catering to the diverse requirements of the European semiconductor landscape. This versatility will enable advancements in semiconductor applications across multiple industries.
Looking Towards the Future
The establishment of Europe's largest semiconductor metrology and analysis technology hub by Applied Materials and Fraunhofer IPMS collaboration represents a significant leap forward in the region's semiconductor industry. This collaboration aligns with the growing demand for cutting-edge research and development to stay competitive globally.
The hub is poised to drive innovation and advancements in semiconductor manufacturing processes by leveraging state-of-the-art metrology systems. Faster learning cycles, improved process validations, and the development of new applications will be key outcomes of this collaboration.
Moreover, the technology hub's location within the Silicon Saxony cluster is expected to foster a vibrant semiconductor research and development ecosystem, attracting talent, investments, and potential partnerships. The unique capabilities of the Applied Materials and Fraunhofer IPMS metrology hub will make it an attractive destination for chipmakers, researchers, and industry stakeholders looking to advance their semiconductor projects.
As the European semiconductor landscape continues to evolve, the technology hub's role is expected to become increasingly pivotal, enabling Europe to maintain its position as a global leader in semiconductor innovation.
In conclusion, the collaboration between Applied Materials and the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS to establish Europe's largest semiconductor metrology technology hub marks a significant milestone in the region's semiconductor industry.
The hub's advanced metrology systems, strategic location, and shared expertise are poised to accelerate semiconductor research and development, fostering innovation and collaboration across diverse market segments. This collaborative initiative holds great promise for maintaining Europe's leadership in semiconductor innovation and meeting the industry's evolving demands.
References and Further Reading
Joosting, J.-P. (2023) Applied Materials and Fraunhofer IPMS launch Metrology Hub. eeNews Europe. [Online] Available at: https://www.eenewseurope.com/en/applied-materials-and-fraunhofer-ipms-launch-metrology-hub/
Metrology. Semiconductor Engineering. (2021) [Online] Available at: https://semiengineering.com/knowledge_centers/manufacturing/process/metrology/
Orji, N. G., et al. (2018). Metrology for the next generation of semiconductor devices. Nature electronics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6605074/
Semiconductor - Metrology and Inspection. Hitachi High-Tech Corporation. [Online] Available at: https://www.hitachi-hightech.com/global/en/knowledge/semiconductor/room/manufacturing/metrology-inspection.html
Semiconductor, display and Solar. Applied Materials. [Online] Available at: https://www.appliedmaterials.com/
Welcome - fraunhofer IPMS - fraunhofer ipms. (2023) [Online] Available at: https://www.ipms.fraunhofer.de/en.html