European nanoelectronics research center IMEC and the Semiconductor Research Corp. have signed a memorandum of understanding to set up an international collaboration aimed at the creation of novel, environmentally friendly processes and materials for advanced semiconductor manufacturing. The research will be conducted between IMEC and the joint SRC/Sematech Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing (CEBSM), a well-established organization known for its expertise in addressing strategic ESH-related research challenges.
The collaborators say the work will aim at two objectives: creation of leading-edge technologies that protect the environment, as well as more effective processes for lowering the costs of chip manufacturing.
The initial phase of the joint initiative will focus on two areas, according to the participants. The first area will examine sustainable cleaning and surface preparation of new materials and nanostructures. This research includes timely integration of new channel and gate materials, such as germanium and III-V compounds, which are precursors for deposition, etch chemicals, and cleaning agents in future device manufacturing. This research will establish options for minimizing missions and decreasing the usage of chemicals, water, and energy during processing. The work will also explore novel in-line and real-time approaches for monitoring the efficacy of nanostructure cleaning processes.
The second research area will explore sustainable high-performance material planarization processes. This research will advance the design and feasibility of process options that eliminate the release and discharge of nanoparticles in the manufacturing waste streams.
"Semiconductors have made enormous progress in speed, performance, and miniaturization, which places greater demand on the environmental aspects equired to create these 'brains' of the electronics world through ever-cleaner methods and materials," said Larry Sumney, president/CEO of SRC. "Joining the considerable talents of SRC and IMEC with the CEBSM's proven track record for high-impact ESH research demonstrates the commitment of the chip industry to stewardship of the global environment."
"By joining forces with CEBSM's experts, we will be able to complement our advanced semiconductor scaling research with ESH aspects already at a very early stage of researching new processes and materials for the next-generation IC technologies," said Gilbert Declerck, president/CEO of IMEC. "Such collaboration will offer our partners an added value toward future volume manufacturing."
The news is the second major semiconductor ESH-related announcement in the past few weeks, coming on the heels of ISMI's launch of its new Environment, Safety & Health Technology Center in Austin, TX, which the consortium says "will be dedicated to providing green technology solutions that lead to reduced energy consumption, lower costs, and greater productivity in semiconductor manufacturing."