Facing financial constraints and serious technical challenges, the semiconductor industry must practice creative collaboration to survive, grow, and link to emerging industries, SEMATECH President and CEO Dan Armbrust said in a recent keynote address to SEMATECH's 2010 Surface Preparation and Cleaning Conference (SPCC) in Austin, TX.
"Our success as an industry will depend on how well we innovate in collaborative R&D," Armbrust said. "We need to be leaders in applying semiconductor capabilities to emerging technologies."
Armbrust said that while the overall economy appears to be improving, the chip industry continues to grapple with consolidation, rising R&D costs, flattening revenue growth, and increasingly difficult technical targets. Given these conditions, collaborations are becoming increasingly accepted as a necessary and cost-effective business strategy, he noted.
"Collaboration is the path to survival and growth in a changing industry," Armbrust told approximately 150 conference attendees. "The challenges are global and cut across industry sectors. Solutions require significant investment and leveraged funding. We need to encourage new experiments in creative cooperation – interdisciplinary and interregional collaborations, industry-university-government alliances, and convergence with emerging technologies and industries."
Armbrust said the semiconductor industry has been a collaborative trailblazer, forming consortia to share resources, costs, and risks; developing an industry roadmap; holding forums for industry dialogue and consensus building; and creating standards and infrastructure for major technology transitions.
"But we can do even better," he declared, by exploring new ways to bring university research into the industry mainstream, developing new partnerships between chipmakers and equipment and materials manufacturers to accelerate commercialization, and forming collaborations with emerging industries in nanoelectronics, energy, and biotechnology.
"Semiconductors are the foundation of these new industries," Armbrust said. "Silicon fabrication can be applied to nanodevice fabrication. Our material knowledge applies to material and thin film development. And our industry's experience in material physics and fundamental science are relevant to smart systems and device development."
Within the chip industry, Armbrust said SEMATECH has been redefining collaboration by offering several new avenues of engagement:
- Program memberships that align consortial R&D with suppliers' early product development needs. Two examples are SEMATECH's Resist Materials Development Center and the Mask Blank Development Center at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering of the University at Albany.
- Flexible program structures that allow chip-makers, suppliers, fabless, and assembly/packaging companies to engage with SEMATECH to co-accelerate development of commercial equipment and standard materials.
- SEMATECH's newly launched EUV Mask Infrastructure consortium, with initial members committed to identifying and closing infrastructural issues in EUV mask metrology
- Participation across industry sectors in developing 3D interconnects using through-silicon vias—an industry game-changer that enables system productivity growth apart from scaling and permits heterogeneous integration of new system-on-chip applications
- Environment, safety and health (ESH) initiatives to drive sustainable manufacturing and reduce the industry's environmental footprint through energy and resource conservation, supply chain alignment, ecofriendly process development, and other measures. The International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative's ESH Technology Center was formed to help device manufacturers and suppliers pursue such objectives
- Collaborations with more than 80 universities worldwide to pursue projects in critical logic and memory technologies – including such areas as advanced materials, advanced devices and post-CMOS materials and structures. Each university works with SEMATECH to co-develop processes that lead to commercial tools.
Armbrust's comments preceded nearly 30 leading-edge technical presentations from industry suppliers, FEP, and International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI). They included:
- An invited paper on FEP's success in using second harmonic generation (SHG) to evaluate the effects of different surface cleans and passivation treatments on indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) was delivered by Dr. Jimmy Price, Member Technical Staff. Price said the ability to accurately characterize III-V surfaces and interfaces using SHGhighlights the potential of this technique as an in-line metrology system suitable for InGaAs-based chip manufacturing. "We now have a non-invasive method that process and device engineers can rely on to monitor the quality of III-V surfaces and interfaces," he noted.
- A benchmarking study by Michael Frisch, EHS Project Manager for International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI), on opportunities for recycling and reclaiming fab and assembly test wastewaters. Frisch's study showed recycling and reclamation opportunities for saving 5.1 billion gallons per year (gpy) at member company fab sites, and 217 million gpy at the assembly test sites. To realize this potential, the study recommended focusing on recycling process rinse waters and reclaiming bulk wastewaters at member fabs.
- An analysis by FEP project manager Dr. Casey Smith of surface preparation and cleans challenges for emerging technologies. Graphene appears to be a promising channel material for non-silicon RF applications, although contaminants must be controlled without oxidizing chemistries to avoid damage to the material, Smith noted. For non-planar technologies such as multi-gate field-effect transistors (MuGFETs), careful modification of the cleans sequence is needed to form residue-free 3D gates, especially for tight pitch layouts.
- Dr. Richard Hill, FEP device engineer, outlined the opportunities and challenges if III-V MOSFETs. Hill said, "It's becoming more challenging to continue to scale silicon without sacrifices in mobility and speed. You can still scale with silicon, but it comes at a cost." By contrast, III-V channels offer significant performance benefits, such as higher mobility and enhanced drive current, which will allow continued scaling and performance improvement. Hill qualified his optimism, however, by discussing the integration challenges which remain, the biggest being dielectric interface quality.
For more than 10 years, SPCC has brought together leading researchers from industry and academia to focus on challenges in advanced wafer and mask cleaning and surface preparation. SPCC is part of the SEMATECH Knowledge Series—a set of unique opportunities that focus on accelerating solutions for critical challenges in the nanoelectronics industry.