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Archive for June, 2014

Join Us for 2nd Annual Silicon Innovation Forum at SEMICON West

Monday, June 30th, 2014

By Tony Chao

As a member of the organizing committee, I’m pleased to share that Applied Ventures will be participating in the second-annual Silicon Innovation Forum (SIF) held in conjunction with SEMICON West 2014 in San Francisco on Tuesday, July 8.

The forum is designed to bring new and emerging innovators together with the semiconductor industry’s top strategic investors and venture capitalists (VCs), in order to enable closer collaboration and showcase the next generation of entrepreneurs in microelectronics.

As the venture capital arm of Applied Materials and a founding member of SIF, Applied Ventures understands the important role corporate VCs play in funding tomorrow’s innovations. We have worked closely with SEMI and fellow committee members around the world to develop a robust and exciting program for this year that includes a broad range of speakers and entrepreneurs offering insight into today’s technology, capital, partnership and collaboration strategies necessary to support the industry’s innovation engine.

Last year’s first-ever event generated positive feedback from startups and corporate investors alike, and helped to extend the R&D pipeline from academia to commercialization, resulting in many fruitful opportunities within the VC community. Applied Ventures’ own portfolio company MTPV Power Corporation took home last year’s Top Pitch award for its breakthrough technology that converts heat to electricity using semiconductor chips. Semiconductor materials startup Inpria Corporation, a pioneer in high-resolution photoresist materials and fellow portfolio company, gained traction as well following the event, raising follow-on funding from strategic and financial investors.

Since the inaugural 2013 event, investor and innovator activity continues to evolve and co-investments are now being made across the ecosystem. With this year’s program, the goal is to spur insightful dialogue and grow relationships to address key industry challenges.

This year’s day-long agenda includes:

TUESDAY, JULY 8, 2014 Moscone Center North, Hall E, Room 134

9:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. “INVESTOR PITCH” SESSION for New and Emerging Companies A unique semi-private period for SIF exhibitors and investors to network with innovators and prospective investors in a fast-paced setting

1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. GENERAL SESSION A public forum open to all SEMICON West attendees where presenters will discuss industry innovation and investment challenges and opportunities

  • Keynote: 1:10 p.m. – 1:50 p.m.

Dr. Bob Metcalfe

Innovation in the Doriot Ecology with Startups Out of Research Universities

Professor of Innovation and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise

Cockrell School of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

  • Investor Panel – Leading Investor Perspectives: 1:50 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.

Industry experts and investors (including Eileen Tanghal of Applied Ventures) will offer insight into collaborative issues and challenges facing today’s innovators. The panel will be composed of corporate venture capitalists, early and mature startups, and a traditional venture capitalist.

  • The Game Changers – Startup Success Stories: 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Hear from innovative companies with disruptive technologies that are changing the future of microelectronics

Be sure to mark your calendars and look for us at the show.  We look forward to seeing you there!

For more on Applied Ventures’ investment strategy or to explore technologies that can benefit from Applied’s expertise in precision materials engineering, read about our newest investment in biotechnology and check out our Applied Ventures website.

New Materials Era in Advanced Interconnects

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

By Kavita Shah

Today’s announcement of the Applied Endura® Volta™ CVD Cobalt system, which deposits thin conformal and selective cobalt films for manufacturing the copper circuitry that connects billions of transistors in today’s integrated circuits, marks the biggest change in the copper interconnect in the last 15 years.

The Endura Volta CVD system is a major technical achievement for Applied Materials that showcases the company’s precision materials engineering expertise. I’m thrilled about today’s announcement and pleased to provide a brief overview of the new system, highlight key challenges the industry is facing in the manufacturing of advanced interconnects, and discuss the critical applications using cobalt.

Growth in semiconductors today is driven primarily by mobile applications and this demand continues to increase with no slowdown in sight. Supporting this trend, chipmakers continue adding smaller and faster transistors to chips to maintain the pace of Moore’s Law, and as a consequence copper wiring is being drastically scaled and densities increased. Today advanced chips can feature up to 15 layers of copper metallization and more than 7 linear miles of wiring embedded in a square-inch 28nm chip layout—a distance that will only increase as transistor density increases and additional metal levels are added. At these dimensions it becomes exceptionally difficult to achieve perfect copper fill in 100% of the trenches and vias that make up the circuitry of a device. Other performance-degrading effects, such as electro-migration, which can cause movement of copper that leaves voids in the wiring, also become significantly more problematic. The smallest defect can kill a device; interconnect performance and reliability begin to suffer under these conditions. For chipmakers, this means yield issues. For consumers, it means mobile devices that they rely on may fail or not function correctly.

Higher densities at smaller nodes generate several new manufacturing challenges, specifically in the ability to fill narrow geometries and to extract reliable performance from the wires and interconnects. As a result, the industry needs new materials that can keep extending copper technology to maintain the pace of Moore’s Law.

New Materials Era for Interconnects
The Volta system’s breakthrough technology leverages Applied’s expertise in precision materials engineering to alleviate roadblocks to copper interconnect scaling beyond the 2Xnm node through two enabling applications—a conformal cobalt liner and a selective cobalt capping layer, which together completely encapsulate the copper wiring.

Cobalt is a phenomenal new material, primarily because it has several good characteristics.  It offers low resistivity and adheres well to copper and barrier layers. Plus, there is flexibility in depositing and tuning this material — making it production friendly.

In the first new process step, CVD cobalt enables the thin, continuous deposition for the liner layer that optimizes the subsequent copper seed layer, driving good plating performance and, ultimately, reliable device performance.

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The second cobalt process deposits a selective CVD cobalt capping layer after the chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) step on copper lines to reduce electro-migration. The cap immobilizes the atoms at the surface of the copper, promoting good adhesion of the copper lines to the subsequent dielectric barrier layer.

What Applied Materials has done by enabling the two new process steps—the Volta CVD system’s cobalt liner and selective cobalt capping layer—is to demonstrate improved copper gap fill and an order-of-magnitude reduction in electro-migration. These are critical to extending Moore’s Law beyond 20 nanometers.

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