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IEDM: Thanks for MEMS-ories

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

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By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

At the 60th annual International Electron Devices Meeting this week in San Francisco, there was much buzz about the 14-nanometer FinFET papers being presented by IBM and Intel. Those papers were the subject of a press release two months in advance.

Getting less attention at IEDM 2014 were the papers on sensors, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices and bio-MEMS. This technology generates fewer headlines, although it is present in smartphones, fitness trackers, and many other electronic products.

Monday afternoon, December 15, saw the first MEMS-related papers presented at the conference, on nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) and energy harvesters. Donald Gardner of Intel, an IEEE Fellow, presented a paper on “Integrated On-Chip Energy Storage Using Porous-Silicon Electrochemical Capacitors,” which was supported by research at Florida International University and the University of Turku.

Gardner described how porous-silicon nanostructures were synthesized and passivated with titanium nitride through atomic-level deposition or with carbon through chemical vapor deposition. These coatings helped keep the porous silicon from oxidizing, he explained.

These electrochemical capacitors, an alternative to batteries, produced with the porous silicon could be used in energy harvesting and some applications in energy storage, according to the authors of the paper.

Session 8 of the IEDM conference also included a paper authored by France’s Institute of Electronics, Microelectronics and Nanotechnology (IEMN) and STMicroelectronics, “Fabrication of Integrated Micrometer Platform for Thermoelectric Measurements.” Maciej Haras presented the paper. He noted that 55 percent to 60 percent of energy used is released as waste heat. Harvesting energy from such heat could be a significant source of power generation in the future.

“Thermoelectricity is quite unpopular on the market,” Haras noted. Toxic materials, such as antimony, bismuth, lead, and tellurium, could be replaced by silicon, germanium or silicon germanium (SiGe) could to produce CMOS-compatible thermoelectrics, he said.

In energy conversion efficiency, silicon that is only 10 nanometers thick is 10 times more efficient than bulk silicon, Haras said.

Session 15 on Tuesday morning, December 16, was devoted to “Graphene Devices, Biosensors and Photonics.” This session featured some of the longest paper titles at the conference, such as “An Ultra-Sensitive Resistive Pressure Sensor Based on the V-Shaped Foam-like Structure of Laser-Scribed Graphene,” “A Semiconductor Bio-electrical Platform with Addressable Thermal Control for Accelerated Bioassay Development,” and “Label-Free Optical Biochemical Sensor Realized by a Novel Low-Cost Bulk-Silicon-based CMOS Compatible 3-Dimensional Optoelectronic IC (OEIC) Platform.”

Other papers were more direct, with shorter titles, such as “Flexible, Transparent Single-Layer Graphene Earphone,” which was about exactly that, and “An Integrated Tunable Laser Using Nano-Silicon-Photonic Circuits.”

Coming up on Tuesday afternoon is Session 22, devoted to MEMS and resonator technology, with six papers scheduled.

The nuts and bolts of MEMS and NEMS technology can be quite esoteric, yet such devices are crucial to the future of electronics.

3D ASIP: “It’s Complicated”

Monday, December 15th, 2014

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By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

The presentations at this week’s 3D Architectures in Semiconductor Integration and Packaging conference could be summed up in a famous Facebook status: “It’s complicated.”

They also could be summed up in one word: Progress.

This year has seen tremendous progress in implementation of 3DIC technology, according to speakers at the 11th annual conference, held in Burlingame, Calif. Those who have been touting and tracking 3D chips for years are looking forward to the 2015 introduction of Intel’s Xeon Phi “Knights Landing” processor for high-performance computing, which will incorporate the Hybrid Memory Cube technology in the same package as the CPU.

Activities began Wednesday, December 10, with a preconference symposium on “2.5/3D-IC Design Tools and Flows” and “3D Integration: 3D Process Technology.” Bill Martin of E-System Design kicked off the program with a presentation on path finding, a topic addressed several times over the next two days. He emphasized that preparing for a chip design project, such as choosing the right tools, is as important as the design and implementation phases when it comes to embracing 3DIC technology.

John Ferguson of Mentor Graphics later said there is “an infrastructure problem” in the semiconductor industry when it comes to process design kits (PDKs) for 2.5D and 3D chips. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing has collaborated with Mentor and other leading suppliers of electronic design automation tools to offer PDKs to TSMC foundry customers, yet the next step must be taken to have outsourced semiconductor assembly and test contractors provide packaging PDKs.

Phil Garrou, a senior consultant for Yole Developpement, said 2014 has witnessed significant progress in implementation of 3DIC technology. “We no longer need to prove performance,” he said. “The remaining issue is cost.”

Several speakers addressed the topic of the Internet of Things and how it involves 3DICs on the first day of the conference. Steven Schulz of the Silicon Integration Initiative (Si2) said 3D chip designers should think of their products not as system-on-a-chip devices, but system-on-a-stack.

Yole’s Rozalia Beica said predictions that the Internet of Things market will be worth trillions of dollars in 2022 are “overoptimistic” and that “optimism is higher than current investment.” Yole looks for the market in IoT sensors to be worth $400 billion in 2024, she said.

Samta Bonsal of the GE Software Center spoke on the Industrial Internet. “That world is huge,” she said, and predicted it will have “a bigger impact” than consumer-oriented IoT applications. Gartner says the market for all IoT chips will be worth $7.58 billion in 2015, she noted. The market research firm also forecasts that 8 billion connected devices will be shipped during 2020, encompassing 35 billion semiconductor devices produced on 6 million wafers.

E. Jan Vardaman of TechSearch International presented a lively review of 3DIC technology, past and present. “There’s been a lot of good progress with TSV (through-silicon vias), enabling us to improve the process,” she said. Still, 3DIC has been a long time in coming, noting that Micron Technology began research and development on DRAM stacking a dozen years ago and Xilinx initiated development of a silicon-based interposer to be used with TSVs in 2006, six years before it was able to offer a field-programmable gate array with such technology, manufactured in volume by TSMC.

Dyi-Chung Hu of Unimicron looked past the silicon interposer to the era to using glass for interposers and substrate core materials. Glass has a low coefficient of thermal expansion compared with silicon, he noted, and is very flat. Its chief drawback is its brittleness, according to Hu.

Michael Gaynes of IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center reported on his company’s two ICECool projects for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, developing 3DICs that could run cooler in data-center servers.

The last day of the conference coincided with a convention devoted to the Star Trek television series in the adjacent hotel ballroom. Attendees dressed as Klingons and starship crew members mingled with the 3DIC technologists in the hotel lobby, all dreaming and thinking about the future.

Air-gaps in Copper Interconnects for Logic

Friday, October 31st, 2014

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By Ed Korczynski, Sr. Technical Editor, SST/SemiMD

The good people at ChipWorks have released some of the first public data on Intel’s new 14nm-node process, and the results indicate that materials limitations in on-chip electrical interconnects are adding costs. Additional levels of metal have been added, and complex “air-gap” structures have been added to the dielectric stack. Flash memory chips have already used air-gaps, and IBM has already used a subtractive variant of air-gaps with >10 levels of metal for microprocessor manufacturing, but this is the first known use of additive air-gaps for logic after Intel announced that a fully-integrated process was ready for 22nm-node chips.

Mark Bohr of Intel famously published data in 1995 (DOI:  10.1109/IEDM.1995.499187) on the inherent circuit speed limitations of interconnects, showing proportionality to the resistance (R) of the metal lines multiplied by the capacitance (C) of the dielectric insulation around the metal (Fig.1). The RC product thus should be minimized for maximum circuit speed, but the materials used for both the metal and the dielectric insulation around metal lines are at limits of affordability in manufacturing.

There are no materials that super-conduct electricity at room temperature, and only expensive and room-sized supercomputers and telecommunications base-stations can afford to use the liquid-nitrogen cooling that is needed for known superconductors to function. Carbon Nano-Tubes (CNT) and 2D atomic-layers of carbon in the form of graphene can conduct ballistically, but integration costs and electrical contact resistances limit use. Copper metal remains as the best electrical conductor for on-chip interconnects, yet as horizontal lines and vertical vias continue to shrink in cross-sectional area the current density has reached the limit of reliability. The result is the increase in the number of metal layers to 13 for 14nm-node Intel microprocessors, while IBM used 15 layers for 22nm-node Power8 chips.

Low-k Dielectrics and Pore Sizes

The dielectric constant (“k”) of silicon oxide is ~4, and ~3.5 with the addition of fluorine to the oxide (SiOF). Carbon-Doped Oxide (CDO or SiOC or SiOC:H) with k~3.0 has been integrated well into interconnect stacks. Some polymers can provide k values in the 2.0-2.7, but they cannot be integrated into most interconnects due to lack of mechanical strength, chemical resistance, and overall stability. Air has k=1, and there have been specialized chips made using metal wires floating in air, but lack of physical structure results in poor manufacturing yield and weak reliability.

A clever compromise is to use both SiOC with k~3 and air with k~1 in a stack, which results in an integrated k value weighted by the percent of the volume taken up by each phase. Porous Low-k (PLK) with 10% porosity allows for an integrated k of ~2.7 for modest improvement, but increasing porosity to just 20% for k~2.4 results in connected random pores that reduce reliability. To reliably integrate 20-30% air into SiOC, the pores cannot be random but must be engineered as discrete gaps in the structure.

In 2007, IBM announced that it would engineer air-gaps in microprocessors, but the company claimed to be using an extremely complex process for integration involving a self-assembled thin-film mask to anisotropically etch out holes between lines and then further isotropic etching to form elongated pores. Though relatively complex and expensive, this process allows for the use of any 2D layout for lines in a given metal layer.

Additive Air-gap Process-Design Integration

For fab lines that are still working with aluminum metal and additive dielectrics, air-gaps are a defect that occurs with imperfect dielectric fill. When not planned as part of the design, air-gaps formed in a lower-layer can be exposed to etchants during subsequent processing resulting in metal shorts or opens. However, Figure 2 shows that it is possible to engineer air-gaps by Chemical-Vapor Deposition (CVD) of dielectric material into line-space structures with proper process control and design layout restrictions. Twenty years ago, this editor worked for an OEM on CVD processes for dielectric fill, and the process can be tuned to be highly repeatable and relatively low-cost if a critical masking step can be avoided. In 1998, Shieh et al. from Stanford (Shieh, Saraswat & McVittie. IEEE Electron Dev. Lett., January 1998) showed proof-of-concept for this approach to lower k values.

Figure 2: CVD can be easily tuned to initially coat sidewalls (top), then pinch-off (middle), and finally form a closed pore (bottom) during one step. (Source: Ed Korczynski)

Four years ago at IEDM 2010, Intel presented details of how to engineer air-gaps using CVD. As this editor wrote at that time in an extensive analysis:

The lithographic masking step is needed for two reliability reasons. First, by excluding air-gap formation in areas near next-layer vias, alignment between layers can be more easily done. Second, wide spaces are excluded where the final non-conformal CVD step wouldnt automatically pinch-off to close the gaps; leaving full SiOC(H) in wider spaces also helps with mechanical strength. The next layer is patterned with a conventional dual-damascene flow, with the option to add air-gaps.

Now we know that Intel kept air-gaps on the metaphorical shelf by skipping use at the 22nm-node. The 2014 IEDM paper from Intel will discuss details of 14nm-node air-gaps:   two levels at 80nm and 160nm minimum pitches, yielding a 17% reduction in capacitance delays.

This process requires regularly spaced 1D line arrays as a design constraint, which may also be part of the reason for additional metal layers to allow for 2D connections through vias. Due to lithography resolution advantages with 1D “gridded” layouts, other logic fabs may soon run 1D designs at which point additive air-gaps like that used by Intel will provide a relatively easy boost to IC speeds.

Solid State Watch: October 23-30, 2014

Friday, October 31st, 2014
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Blog review October 20, 2014

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Matthew Hogan of Mentor Graphics blogs about how automotive opportunities are presenting new challenges for IC verification. A common theme for safety systems involves increasingly complex ICs and the need for exceptional reliability.

Anish Tolia of Linde blogs that technology changes in semiconductor processing and demands for higher-purity and better-characterized electronic materials have driven the need for advanced analytical metrology. Apart from focusing on major assay components, which are the impurities detailed in a Certificate of Analysis (CoA), some customers are also asking that minor assay components or other trace impurities must be controlled for critical materials used in advanced device manufacturing.

Karey Holland of Techcet provides an excellent review of SEMI’s Strategic Materials Conference. The keynote presentation, “Materials Innovation for the Digital 6th Sense Era,” was by Matt Nowak of Qualcomm. He discussed both the vision of the Internet of Things (IoT), the required IC devices (including analog & sensors) and implications to materials (and cost to manufacture) from these new IC devices.

The age of the Internet of Things is upon us, blogs Pete Singer. There are, of course, two aspects of IoT. One is at what you might call the sensor level, where small, low power devices are gathering data and communicating with one another and the “cloud.” The other is the cloud itself. One key aspect will be security, even for low-level devices such as the web-connected light bulb. Don’t hack my light bulb, bro!

Linde Electronics has developed the TLIMS/SQC System. Anish Tolia writes that this system includes an information management database plus SQC/SPC software and delivers connectivity with SAP, electronically pulling order information from SAP to TLIMS and pushing CoA data from TLIMS to SAP.

Ed Korczynski blogs about how IBM researchers showed the ability to grow sheets of graphene on the surface of 100mm-diameter SiC wafers, the further abilitity to grow epitaxial single-crystalline films such as 2.5-μm-thick GaN on the graphene, the even greater ability to then transfer the grown GaN film to any arbitrary substrate, and the complete proof-of-manufacturing-concept of using this to make blue LEDs.

Phil Garrou says it’s been awhile since we looked at what is new in the polymer dielectric market so he checked with a number of dielectric suppliers – specifically Dow Corning, HD Micro and Zeon — and asked what was new in their product lines.

Karen Lightman, Executive Director, MEMS Industry Group, had the pleasure to learn more about the challenges and opportunities affecting MEMS packaging at a recent International Microelectronics Assembly and Packaging Society (IMAPS) workshop held in her hometown of Pittsburgh and at her alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

Ed Korczynski blogs that The Nobel Prize in Physics 2014 was awarded jointly to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura “for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources.”

Yes, GlobalFoundries is hot on FD-SOI. Yes, Qualcomm’s interested in it for IoT. Yes, ST’s got more amazing low-power FD-SOI results. These are just some of the highlights that came out of the Low Power Conference during Semicon Europa in Grenoble, France (7-9 October 2014) blogs Adele Hars.

Wrap-up: SEMI’s Strategic Materials Conference

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

SEMI’s Strategic Materials Conference was held September 30-October 1, 2014, in Santa Clara, CA at the Biltmore hotel.

By Karey Holland, Techcet Group

The 2014 Strategic Materials Conference was very well attended.  There were people from several of the leading IC makers as well as suppliers of equipment and materials to the fabs.  Unfortunately, the audio and video systems were not stellar, so we had to endure some ear shattering system noise, and any light image was not visible on the screens.  Otherwise, the venue was good.  Throughout the conference, several themes were repeated.

Focus on the stability we hope for in post 2013 times, but concern about volatility and uncertainty of the world economics, esp. the recession-like growth numbers in Europe and Japan expected for the next few years. While forecasters (Gartner, IC Insights, VLSI Research, Linx, Techcet Group and others) anticipate IC wafer starts growing at ≥6% CAGR over the next 5 years, there is concern that any number of geo political world problems could throw us back into a global recession.  Attendees had a greater concern than the presenters over the possibility of a future recession, and that the impact would be greater to IC industry now due to the entrenchment of mobile platforms.

Focus on cost of lithography as a driver for increased cost of leading edge MCUs/MPUs … with current nodes, multi-patterning requires many more expose/develop/dep/etch steps than EUV, but EUV has not yet met the requirements for manufacturing implementation.  It is likely that EUV will first be used for only a few critical layers.  DSA (directed self-assembly) may be used also for a few selected critical layers, but issues of defects will likely keep it from use in many layers.

Focus on the expected (and currently numerous options) for advanced devices and implications for materials.  This includes advanced packaging technologies.

450mm wafers may continue to slip, if the other large IC makers (e.g. TSMC, Samsung, GlobalFoundries) don’t agree with Intel on first implementation date/node. Collaboration across the entire ecosystem was stressed for 450mm to become a reality.

Below are things I found particularly interesting in the presentations and/or at the end of day panel discussions.

The key note presentation, “Materials Innovation for the Digital 6th Sense Era,” was by Matt Nowak of Qualcomm.  He discussed both the vision of the Internet of Things (IoT), the required IC devices (including analog & sensors) and implications to materials (and cost to manufacture) from these new IC devices; a perfect start to SMC 2014.  Qualcomm defines the Digital 6th Sense Era is “the augmentation of human ability”, or as Sue Davis put it “intelligent data based extension of our 5 senses ==>to a 6th“. Essentially this is where the ability of the IoT/IoE data feedback can act as our 6th sense by capturing data about one & one’s environment which results in  prediction/information being shared based on data collection and/or user selections regarding the environment around us (or about us, e.g., tele-health).”  Because the smartphone is the “most pervasive platform ever” (US Android users average 106 Apps launched/day), it can serve as a remote connection to the IoT world … be that monitoring our health, schedules, honey-do lists, and improving our understanding and enjoyment of the world around us.  For advanced logic one might expect, lithography for advanced ICs (quad patterning vs EUV) were discussed as key cost drivers.  Other required/expected advanced materials include high mobility channel materials and thin barrier metals (likely Co). Beyond CMOS, new structures and materials may be required to support sensors (bio, chemical, fluidic), nano batteries, piezo, thermal, and solar harvesters.

Mark Thirsk, Linx-Consulting, reviewed IC growth and lack thereof for past years, and observed that 2014 will be “first good year in 8 years” (since 2006), and forecast 6-8% CAGR for the next few years – strongly dependent on the success of the IoT.  IC market growth since 2010 correlates strongly to GDP since 2010, and thus regional GDP differences (e.g. the current European recession) are reflected in IC demand.  Technology challenges & opportunities in for the next 5+ years include advanced logic (3D NAND, and new memory method after 2018), numerous AL (atomic layer) processes, 3D / advanced packaging, patterning efficiency, and complexity.  The electronic materials landscape is changing: the supply chain is merging, and there are new entrants (esp. from Korea, Taiwan & China) in advanced materials such as photoresists. Interestingly, China appears to be focusing more on investing in fabless than fabs.

Duncan Meldrum, Hilltop Economics, said that the current subdued market growth (3% 2013-16) is due to more fiscal responsible people. China & Asia are growing 4 to 7.7%, US & Latin America about 2.1 to 3.1, Euro <2%, and Japan ~1.5%.  The tax increase in Japan is having a very negative impact. He expects the US to see a 5% year over year improvement (very good news) with our investments finally growing in 2nd half of 2014.  He anticipates healthy, but not stellar consumer spending through 2016.

Patrick Ho, Stifel Nicolas, initially discussed that for companies that follow Moore’s Law, that it is increasingly Fab capital intensity (Capex) with addition of FinFETs, new materials (e.g. High k), 3D NAND, and Multi-Patterning (from delayed EUV).  One can assume this will continue to be the case as CMOS devices moves from Si channel to replacement channel filled with SiGe, Ge, or III-V and memories move to new technologies such as ReRAM, STTRAM, etc.  His observation is that only Intel is pulling for 450mm, and if TSMC & Samsung don’t exert more pull, 450mm may not happen (esp. in light of the negative impact to equipment revenue per square inch of silicon).  The top 4 OEMs (ASML, KLA-T, Lam, AMAT) are large enough to push back on the top 3 IC makers, and that consolidation is continuing.  Patrick noted that all 4 top OEMs have dividends, and he anticipates that they will eventually get better valuations.  He showed a nice list of companies he thinks are acquisition candidates (CMC, Nanometrics, Nikon, Nova, Axcelis, Rudolph, Veeco, FormFactor, and Ultratech).  Other comments:  Moore’s law lives, but is under stress.  Innovation w/ or w/o EUV will bring industry back to Moore’s Law.  Changing landscape will help economics of leading players.

Ross Kozarsky, who leads Lux Research’s advanced materials team, discussed the longer range materials he investigates such as graphene, 3D printing, and Meta-materials. Graphene film sheets are of interest for transparent conductive materials (e.g. touchscreens), possibly moving to FETs & sensors.  3D printing has been around 30 yrs; today it’s used mostly for prototyping, but manufacturing use makes sense and could really increase total growth.  Multifunctional and multi-materials printers will be needed.  Autonomous cars are now a big growth opportunity, opening great opportunity for chemical and material companies to innovate.

Geraud Duboix, IBM Almaden, develops porous low k materials for interconnect passivation and their integration (esp. plasma damage).  In the 0.65 to 0.1um timeframe, interconnect RC delay was slowing devices even though the transistors were getting faster, and thus began the drive for lower k insulators.  The ITRS has been showing the need for lower k since its inception, but it also has pushed out the date of the more aggressive low ks.  Initially to achieve lower k, C and F were added to SiO2 to break-up network structure.  Today, they are driving low k down by adding porosity.  Once a big concern, Geraud said that ULK mechanical properties are now no longer a concern with UV treatment, the lowest k being integrated is 2.3-2.4, and new low k materials are emerging. Geraud is working on porous low k materials, to achieve lower k, and larger pores deliver lower k.  He discussed the various pore-sizes in evaluation, the importance of porogens (material in the low k deposition that is later removed to create pores) and methods being used to seal the created pores (especially before conformal barrier metal deposition).  Interestingly, he commented that creating and sealing the larger pores is somewhat easier, although he’s being asked to work on the smaller pores for now.  During the panel discussion Mansour Moinpour (Intel) asked why Geraud was working on smaller pores that are more difficult to fill. Geraud responded that for the designers insulators with 2.0 or 1.8 k would be too big a change and they want 2.4 and 2.2 first.

Todd Younkin, from Intel’s central research (components) novel materials group, discussed that the industry will continue CMOS Scaling through 7nm. As stated by others, lithography is a challenge and using several methods to accomplish patterning, while productivity and pattern placement (alignment) are concerns.  Intel is working on devices with channels of higher mobility materials that Si (III-V or MoS2) as well as beyond CMOS (e.g., GAA) devices.  Todd said that early in device research development, Intel works to make sure manufacturing should be capable of meeting cost expectations. These include the cost of multi-patterning versus EUV, ultra-low k interconnect materials, etc.

Angela Franklin, of TriQuint (recently renamed Qorvo) discussed the challenges of supply management (and unlike others, she projects well when talking, so we could avoid the audio system problems … thanks Angela!).  Angela educated the audience about Qorvo devices (some look more like MEMS with permanent epoxy “cavity” structures that resonate w/ the RF) which are significantly different from the leading edge logic and non-volatile most of us follow.  Unlike the device manufactures that use Si, Qorvo uses smaller substrates of III-V and GaN.  Many films are already on the substrates when purchased.  The fab process is very solvent intensive, and only 1/3 aqueous.  Unlike others, Qorvo uses significant eBeam lithography with up to 28 different resists and many negative resists, as well as metal lift-off (my first job at IBM >30 yrs ago).

Prof. Philip Wong of Stanford gave his typical dynamic and mind-stretching presentation. His discussion was focused on the single digit nodes, and the possible new channel materials for logic (III-V or 2D MoS2, MoSe2, WSe2, WTe2 or ??) and possible new devices, including carbon nanotube FET (CNFET), STTRAM, CBRAM, ReRAM (using HfOx, TaOx, TiOx).  He said that memory chips will hold 32Tbits.  He then smiled and said “none of this before the next 10 years”.  He showed some exciting interleaved memory and logic ideas using a base of 2D or 3D FETs, topped by STTRAM, then 2D or 3D FETs, and then 3D RRAM.  Because the interconnects of the bottom device are present, all processing for the others must be at low temperature (<400C).

Discussion Panel.  When asked about collaboration with materials suppliers, Intel and IBM research had significantly different responses.  Intel invests dollars and works with graduate students on advanced projects and hopefully a “lucky accident” brings advances.  IBM research mentioned that legal issues often get in the way of collaboration with suppliers.

Notes for SMC Day 2 2014 Blog

Tim Hendry, from Intel’s supply management team started off day 2.  A large concern he brought up was what he described as the widening connections between fab, material suppliers, and sub-suppliers.  He then discussed the concerns and possible ways to improve connections, as well as the importance of metrology and verification of chemical quality.  Unfortunately, some of the sub-suppliers are very big chemical companies that have difficulty getting excited about the low volume materials used to make ICs.  He finished up by saying that Intel is focused on controlling the costs of manufacturing that require close partnerships with materials suppliers. Intel is driving for unprecedented collaboration among the materials and sub tier suppliers to achieve cost, performance and defect targets.  The cost of packaging and shipping materials globally is driving investigation into new operating models to cut costs.

Dennis Hausmann of LamRC/NVLS discussed ALD/CVD in more details than others.  For Each CVD/ALD step, an average of $2-$3/wafer is added to manufacturing cost, while only about $1/wafer of this is for chemistry+power+exhaust management.  He reviewed at least 4 versions of ALD tools (furnaces to single wafer) and said that there is a “right ALD tool” for the right deposition job.  He said that single wafer tools with proper development can meet same throughput as batch furnaces.  However, if you look at the development cost, single wafer tools are much better in cost.  For depositions that improve with plasma ALD, single wafer tools also make sense.  An important observation by Dennis was that for ALD, sometimes it is the unknown contaminant that “makes it go”.  This is something that has been observed in the past of copper plating chemistries, as well as some CMP slurries.

James ONeil, CTO Entegris had an interesting title, which should fit most suppliers “Accelerating yield in a disruptive environment”.  James emphasized that suppliers need meaningful process discussions, insights & collaboration with their customers.

Adrienne Pierce of Edwards introduced SCIS collaboration to most of us.  This is a supply chain collaboration working group.  Some topics are tracing defects origins and BKMs for specific process (e.g. ALD).

There were then two parallel sessions; one on advanced memories and the other on 3D packaging.  In the memory session, Norma Sosa of IBM talked about PCRAM (phase change memory, which Micron has been shipping for a few years now), Mark Raynor, Matheson, discussed RRAM for Non-Volatile, and Suresh Upa, SanDisk, discussed packaging implications.

After the breakout, we had presentations from four materials supplier companies.  The four same very similar things.  Dave Bern of Dow Chemical discussed using the “right tool” for collaboration and the importance of making sure suppliers agree to work in areas that fit their “core competencies”.  Wayne Mitchel of Air Products noted that ICs are only 2% of GDP.  He agreed with Dave Bern that suppliers should only agree to work (partner) with customer on areas within expertise, otherwise it takes too much time and money to execute successfully. Jean Marc Girard, Air Liquide discussed the numerous risks of supply chain, from the sub-supplier, the environment (e.g. earthquakes), and materials stability (or lack thereof). Kevin O’Shea of SAFC Hitech emphasized that taking materials from a catalog of low volume and ramping to IC manufacturing needs is not trivial, and may also not be consistent with the materials manufacturer (the sub-supplier, or company that is “primary” in the materials).

The day 2 Panel discussion had more audience participation.  Some discussions I found particularly interesting are discussed below.

Tim (Intel) said the gap is getting wider between Intel, suppliers, sub-suppliers (esp. customs for IC industry). The large sub-supplier that doesn’t have an interest in moving forward – there is no motivation to increase metrology, metrics, etc.  The shrinking sub-supplier base isn’t good for our industry – reduction in cost per bit comes from shrinks and reuse of capital, not only lower cost materials..

Kurt Carlson said that sub suppliers don’t think IC fabrication is the best industry – the IC industry wants more and more, yet wants to pay less and less.  It’s not worth it to us (good sub-suppliers leave because it’s too costly for the small volumes).

Jean Marc said they don’t want to duplicate development costs, if they don’t need to; they would rather use universities and share on things like toxicology.

Dave said it costs millions of dollars to test materials, like EUV.

Mansour Moinpour asked about collaboration on liquid particle, GCMS, and similar – can we have joint & consistent measurements across the industry?  James Entegris responded that end user need to be drivers.  Jean Marc suggested that maybe SEMI standards could drive a standard of industrial analytics.

The value of roadmaps was very different to the various participants, however the idea of regulatory alignment and a roadmap related to this was generally thought to be useful.

The question of cost and logistics … there are some materials that require shipping a lot of water, which adds cost.  Intel said that they are getting into more cost sensitive mobile market and they may be driven to this rather than exact materials copy in near future.  Tim said the Intel CEO is “hell bent” that Intel will make money in the mobile market.  “Intel will pull it off.”

Lithography: What are the alternatives to EUV?

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

By Pete Singer, Editor-in-Chief

EUV received a recent boost with IBM reporting good results on a 40W light source upgrade to its ASML NXE3300B scanner, at the EUV Center of Excellence in Albany. The upgrade resulted in better than projected performance with 44W of EUV light being measured at intermediate focus and confirmed in resist at the wafer level.  In the first 24 hours of operation after the upgrade, 637 wafer exposures were completed in normal production lot mode. Dan Corliss, the EUV Development Program Manager for IBM, called it a “watershed moment.”

Critics, most notably analyst Robert Maire of Semiconductor Advisors, said it was “not that much of a real increase in power and certainly no breakthrough, just incremental improvement.” He adds: “We still don’t have the reticle “ecosystem,” the resist and many other components to make for viable, commercial EUV production. We are still a very long way away and this does not change the view that EUV will not be implemented at 10nm.” The 10nm node is slated to go into production in late 2015/early 2016.

Yet EUV proponents remain optimistic. Kevin Cummings, the director of lithography at SEMATECH, said “It is good news indeed to hear that IBM in conjunction with ASML has met/exceeded their projected productivity. It is clear to this industry that the EUV LPP source was not meeting the desired schedule and the source improvements timelines were over promised. However this announcement give us some confidence that we are making progress against that schedule. In addition, this milestone is significant in that it allows the wafer throughput needed to continue EUVL HVM development. With the throughputs obtained on the scanner and the recent successes from SEMATECH on zero defect mask blanks and low-dose high-resolution resists now is an excellent time to take advantage of the Albany NY based capability to develop the materials and processes that will be needed for EUVL manufacturing.”

Luc Van den hove, president and CEO of imec, described EUV as a cost-effective lithography approach that is “absolutely needed.” In terms of imaging performance, imec has been characterizing some of the latest hardware together with ASML and have showed very good resolution performance of 13nm half pitch and 22nm contact holes. “With double patterning, we have even demonstrated 9nm half pitch,” Van den hove said. “Who would have thought a couple of years ago that this would be realizable with lithography?”

An Steegen, senior vice president of process technology at imec, said the ideal entry point for EUV is the 10nm node (or N10 using imec’s terminology). “If you look at the cost calculation, the best entry point for EUV is actually at N10 because you can replace triple patterning layers in immersion with a single patterning layer in EUV,” Steegen said. Since that will come relatively soon with early production occurring toward the end of 2015 and in early 2016, that means that likely the whole development phase will have already been built on immersion and multi-patterning. “Likely you will see on the most difficult levels, a swap, an introduction of EUV at the most critical levels later on in manufacturing for N10,” Steegen said.

Interestingly, industry-leader Intel has said that it will not use EUV for 14nm, and even sees a path to 10nm without EUV. At the Intel Developer’s Forum in 2012, Mark Bohr, director of Intel’s technology and manufacturing group said 10nm “would require quadruple patterning for some mask layers but it’s still economical.”

FIGURE 1. Multi-patterning can achieve sub-10nm dimensions. Source: Applied Materials.

FIGURE 2. Multi-patterning adds many process steps, and cost. Source: ASML.

FIGURE 1 shows that the use of spacers can enable sub-10nm dimensions without EUV. FIGURE 2 shows multi-patterning adds to process cost and complexity.

Earlier this year, at the SEMI Northeast Forum held in North Reading, MA, Patrick Martin, Senior Technology Director at Applied Materials, talked about scaling and the rising cost and complexity of patterning. “There’s a lot of talk in the industry about how scaling is dead,” he said. I think a lot of the discussions are if we look at the current architectures entitlements – finFET related technologies that scale to 7nm and 5nm, and the complexity associated with litho, driving those types of cost models, I would have to agree. But the argument is really going to be on architecture entitlement. How the devices are going to adapt to these pattern complexity limited challenges.”

Terry Lee, the chief marketing officer for the DSM business unit at Applied Materials says continued scaling will not be driven as much by lithography, but by 3D. “Scaling used to be enabled by lithography,” he said in a presentation at this year’s Semicon West. “What we’re seeing is the move to enable scaling using both materials and 3D device architectures.” 3D devices include FinFETs, 3D NAND DRAMs with buried word lines and bit lines. These devices represent “the drive to further scale on a third dimension versus scaling using lithography on a horizontal plane,” Lee said. Appled Materials recently introduced a several new products aimed at the 3D device market, including the Producer XP Precision CVD system.

“We’re really in a dilemma when it comes to semi-related production capability,” Martin said. The device features are much smaller than the wavelength that we’re using. We’re into these complex processing related technologies that require double patterning, triple patterning, multiple patterning. The great equalizer here is EUV. If we can ever get to EUV-related manufacturing capability, it gets us to a regime where the devices are relatively the same size as the wavelength of light. The problem is that it’s been delayed. The challenge is if it doesn’t hit 10nm, we’re looking at 7nm. If we start looking at the insertion opportunity for EUV at 7nm and 5nm, we’re now below wavelength. 13.5 nm is the wavelength of EUV. The complexities associated with double patterning come back into play,” Martin added.

The EUV mask challenge

The next major roadblock to progress in the ongoing push to develop EUV lithography for volume production is the availability of defect-free mask blanks. According to Veeco’s Tim Pratt, Senior Director, Marketing, the tools in place today are not capable of producing mask blanks with the kind of yield necessary to support a ramp in EUV. “Based on the yield today, the mask blank manufacturing capacity can’t produce enough mask blanks to support the ASML scanners that they’re planning to ship,” Pratt said. “ASML is going to be delivering some light source upgrades in the field and when those start happening, the effective total wafer throughput of EUV scanners in the field is going to multiply and there’s just not the supply of usable mask blanks to be able to support those.”

The requirement for 2015 is to have zero blank defects larger than 62nm. SEMATECH in 2012 reported work showing eight defects larger than 50nm. “A lot of progress being made but the elusive zero defects has not yet been hit,” Pratt said. Veeco, which is the sole supplier of EUV multilayer deposition tools, has plans to upgrade the existing Odyssey tool and launch a new platform in the 2017/2018 timeframe.

FIGURE 3. EUV masks are considerably more complicated than conventional photomasks. Source: Veeco.

FIGURE 3 shows an EUV mask, which is considerably more complicated than conventional photomasks.

What could derail the EUV ramp, according to Pratt, is a supply of defect-free mask blanks. “EUV is, despite many years and many dollars of investment, not yet in production. The two main gaps are the EUV light sources and the defects on the mask. As they start to make progress, people start to look more seriously at the list of things to worry about for EUV going to production.

The e-beam alternative

There are only a few alternatives to EUV and complex (and costly) mutli-patterning approaches: multi-e-beam (MEB), nanoimprint and directed self-assembly. Electron beam lithography with a single beam has been used for many years for mask writing and device prototyping, and tools available from a number of companies, such as Advantest, IMS, JEOL and Vistec.

Single-beam writing has never been able to compete with massively parallel optical systems in throughput and cost. Now, TSMC’s Burn Lin says that the time for e-beam lithography has arrived. Why? Digital electronics can affordably provide a gigabit per second data rate in a manageable space, enabling very high wafer throughput. Microelectrical mechanical systems and packaging techniques have advanced sufficiently to support a several order of magnitude increase in beam number and high-speed beam writing. And e-beam techniques generally offer higher resolution than optical systems. [1] Last year, TSMC and KLA-Tencor presented a reflective e-beam lithography (REBL) system that can potentially enable multiple-e-beam direct-write for high-volume manufacturing.

Multiple beam systems are also being developed by Multibeam Corp. (the well known David Lam is CEO), IMS and MAPPER. MAPPER was founded in 2000 by Professor Pieter Kruit and two of his recent graduates Marco Wieland and Bert Jan Kampherbeek.

What’s intriguing about e-beam direct write is that it could be used in conjunction with more conventional immersion lithography. Yan Borodovsky, Intel Corporation Sr. Fellow and Director of Advanced Lithography, calls it “complementary lithography.” He says that EBDW could be used instead of EUV to break the continuity of the grating made using 193i with pitch division. In addition to again maintaining the benefits of mature 193i on the critical layer, this solution has lower mask costs (no mask required for grating cutting and vias), and the escalating cost of the mask-making infrastructure is avoided.

He reported that EBDW could also be used instead of EUV for the complementary solution to break the continuity of the grating made using 193i with pitch division. In addition to again maintaining the benefits of mature 193i on the critical layer, this solution has lower mask costs (no mask required for grating cutting and vias), and the escalating cost of the mask-making infrastructure is avoided.

An organization that is focused on developing e-beam technology for mask writing and direct write is the E-beam Initiative (www.ebeam.org).

Nanoimprint

Step and Flash Imprint Lithography (SFIL), a form of ultraviolet nanoimprint lithography (UV-NIL), is recognized for its resolution and patterning abilities. It is one of the few next generation lithography techniques capable of meeting the resolution requirements of future semiconductor devices. Austin-based Molecular Imprints, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Canon, has successfully commercialized the technology. Molecular Imprints invested $165 million over the last decade on platforms, materials, templates and applications.

In 2004, Canon began conducting research into nanoimprint technology to realize sub-20nm high-resolution processes began carrying out joint development with Molecular Imprints and a major semiconductor manufacturer in 2009. Canon says NIL offers such benefits as high-resolution performance, exceptional alignment accuracy and low cost. However, others report that many integration issues such as defectivity, throughput, and overlay must be resolved before SFIL can be used for leading-edge semiconductor high volume manufacturing.

DSA is very promising

Imec’s Van den hove described direct self-assembly (DSA) as “very promising” and Steegen said work there has largely focused on reducing defectivity. In DSA, resists that contain block copolymers are deposited on top of guiding structures. The self-directed nature of the process results in very regular patterns with very high resolution.

The trick with DSA is that it requires a double exposure to take away the random patterns at the edge of the device, and the resolution needed for this “cut mask” is also very high. “We’re convinced that it’s not a replacement for EUV or any high resolution lithography technique. We are very convinced it will be used in conjunction with EUV,” Van den hove said. “It certainly keeps the pressure on EUV very high.”

Steegen described DSA as a complimentary litho technique that is having quite some momentum. The process starts with a “relaxed” guiding pattern on your wafer.  Then, depending on the polymer length in the block copolymer, the space in between the guiding structure is replicated into multiple lines and spaces. “The defectivity of these materials are going to be key to bring the defects down. Our year end target is 60 defects/cm2 and this needs to go down even further next year,” she said.

Work at imec has shown that the polymers, with a hard mask on top, are robust enough to enable the etching of the patterns into silicon. “That’s fairly new data and very promising,” Steegen said. Imec is already looking at where DSA levels could be inserted into the logic N7 flow, with fins and spacers being primary targets. Steegen said the Metal1 level would be a challenge due to its irregular pattern. “That makes it not easy to be replaced with DSA, but we’re looking into techniques to do that,” she said.

Here’s how imec summed up DSA readiness:

• Good progress in material selection and integration flow optimization for line-multiplication down to 14nm, pattern transfer into bulk Si demonstrated.

• First templated DSA process available using SOG/SOC hard mask stack.

• Focus on defectivity reduction & understanding, currently at 350 defects/cm2, YE13 target 60 def/cm2

• Alignment and overlay strategy needs to be worked out

• First N7 implementation levels identified: Finfet (replace SADP EUV or SAQP 193i) and Via (replace EUV SP/DP or 193i LE3).

Conclusion

Hopes remain high for EUV, but long delays has caused attention to shift to possible alternatives. Multi-level patterning is costly but it works; Intel, for example, says it will soon have 14nm devices in production without using EUV. Mutli-ebeam work continue apace, and we could see a role in direct write e-beam in a complementary approach with conventional lithography. Meanwhile, results from early work into directed self-assembly (DSA) is quite promising. DSA could be used in conjunction with EUV for the 7nm node, scheduled to go into production in the 2017/2018 timeframe. Some new device structures, such as vertical NAND and FinFETs, take the pressure off of lithography, but create challenges in other process areas, such as deposition and etch.

Blog review August 18, 2014

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Vivek Bakshi provides a deeper look at the ASML/IBM announcement on EUV progress. ASML and IBM reconfirmed the benchmarking in press and via social media. In short, 637 wafers per day throughput stands, resulting from the successful upgrade of source power by 100%, to its targeted level of ~43 W.

Dick James of Chipworks finally has his hands on Samsung’s V-NAND vertical flash. The vertical flash was first released in an enterprise solid-state drive (SSD) last year, in 960 GB and 480 GB versions. Then in May this year they announced a second-generation V-NAND SSD, with a stack of 32 cell layers.

Phil Garrou provides an overview of controlling warpage in packaging as discussed at ECTC by Hitachi Chemical, Amkor, Qualcomm, and imec.

Anand Sundaram, Senior Associate for PwC’s PRTM Management Consulting writes that software that controls and powers embedded devices is playing a key role in making possible the highly integrated, multi-functional ‘smart’ devices we take for granted in our daily lives – from the ubiquitous smart phones/tablet to ‘smart’ home appliances and wearable electronics.

Pete Singer posted an IoT infographic, courtesy of Jabil. The global IoT market is poised for explosive growth. By 2020, the market is expected to soar to $7.1 trillion. This infographic, courtesy of Jabil, gives an good overview of what will be connected (even garbage bins!).

Bob Smith, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, Uniquify blogs that these days, chip design may seem like an intricately connected jigsaw puzzle, including small, oddly shaped interlocking pieces.

Blog review August 4, 2014

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Innovation is alive and well in the semiconductor industry. That was a key takeaway from the strategic investor panel at the second annual Silicon Innovation Forum at SEMICON West, and one I can’t reinforce enough within the venture capital (VC) community. Eileen Tanghal of Applied Materials reports.

At SEMICON West this year in Thursday morning’s Yield Breakfast sponsored by Entegris, top executives from Qualcomm, GlobalFoundries, and Applied Materials discussed the challenges to achieving profitable fab yield for atomic-scale devices. In his blog, Ed Korzynski reports on what was discussed.

Phil Garrou blogs that Apple has acquired 24 tech companies in the last 18 months. Recently, Apple acquired LuxVue, a start-up focused on low power micro-LED displays. Although Apple has not disclosed any details of the acquisition, not even the purchase price, one can easily envision where micro LED displays could play a big part in Apples thrust into wearable electronics such as the i-watch, Phil says.

Adele Hars continued a report on the SOI papers at the VLSI Symposia in this Part 2 installment. The VLSI Symposia – one on technology and one on circuits – are among the most influential in the semiconductor industry.

Vivek Bakshi created a EUV stir, blogging about IBM’s NXE3300B scanner, at the EUV Center of Excellence in Albany, which recently completed a “40W” EUV light source upgrade.  The upgrade resulted in better than projected performance with 44W of EUV light being measured at intermediate focus and confirmed in resist at the wafer level.

The Week in Review: August 1, 2014

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Semiconductors providing wireless connectivity in health and fitness devices are set for solid double-digit growth in 2014 and beyond, especially as a clutch of wireless technologies make their way into a growing number of wearable devices, according to a new report from IHS Technology.

This week, IBM reported that its NXE3300B scanner, at the EUV Center of Excellence in Albany, recently completed a 40 Watt EUV light source upgrade.  The upgrade resulted in better than projected performance with 44W of EUV light being measured at intermediate focus and confirmed in resist at the wafer level.  In the first 24 hours of operation after the upgrade six hundred thirty seven wafer exposures were completed in normal production lot mode. Vivek Bakshi of EUV Litho, Inc. said that this is a watershed moment for EUV as it establishes the benchmark capability of the EUV source and scanner to support semiconductor technology node development.

Cambridge Nanotherm, a producer of semiconductor heatsink technology, this week announced that it has appointed semiconductor industry veteran Ralph Weir as its CEO. This follows just a few months after news of the initiation of its first production line, allowing the company to roll out its advanced nano-ceramic heat dissipation technology at high volumes to meet the growing needs of LED makers. Cambridge Nanotherm also announces the appointment of a new Business Development Director, Andrew Duncan, as well as ISO 9000 accreditation of its production line.

IHS Technology also reported that the number of smart cities worldwide will quadruple within a 12-year period that started last year, proliferating as local governments work with the private sector to cope with a multitude of challenges confronting urban centers. There will be at least 88 smart cities all over the world by 2025, up from 21 in 2013. While the combined Europe-Middle East-Africa region represented the largest number of smart cities last year, Asia-Pacific will take over the lead in 2025. In all, Asia-Pacific will account for 32 smart cities of the total in nine years’ time, Europe will have 31, and the Americas will contribute 25.

TriQuint Semiconductor, Inc., a RF solutions supplier and technology innovator, announced that it is the first gallium nitride (GaN) RF chip manufacturer to achieve Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) 9. This achievement means TriQuint’s GaN manufacturing processes have met full performance, cost and capacity goals, and that the company has the capability in place to support full rate production.

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