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Startup Works on Ultralow-k Materials for Chips, Displays

Monday, December 21st, 2015

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

The very last presentation at the 12th annual 3D Advanced Semiconductor Integration and Packaging conference was given by Hash Pakbaz, president and chief executive officer of SBA Materials, a developer of nanoporous and mesoporous materials for semiconductor manufacturing and other applications.

After apologizing for his lack of expertise in chip packaging, Pakbaz laid out the case for using his Silicon Valley startup’s patented Liquid Phase Self Assembly technology for designing siloxane-based materials.

Based in San Jose, Calif., with an office in Albuquerque, N.M., SBA Materials has an impressive roster of investors – Intel Capital (through three rounds in two years), Samsung Venture Investment Corporation, Air Liquide Venture Capital, Tokyo Electron Venture Capital, Rock Hankin, William Cook (a co-founder and former CEO of the startup), Southern Cross Venture Partners, and Sun Mountain Capital. SBA Materials has not disclosed its total amount of venture funding, which extends over four rounds.

Materials with a low dielectric constant were first introduced more than a decade ago, and the semiconductor industry migration to making chips with 7-nanometer features will involve the integration of low-k materials, Pakbaz said at the 3D ASIP conference.

SBA’s goals are to “maintain existing composition” and “avoid random porosity,” Pakbaz said. With the LPSA technology, the company can offer low-k materials that are “not ordered and not random,” he added.

The films are spin-coated on a substrate, then subjected to a soft bake at 150 degrees C, according to Pakbaz. The resulting films can vary in thickness from 60 nanometers to 2 microns, he said.

“Our material is nice and sharp,” Pakbaz asserted. “Our material is quite stable.”

While SBA’s uLK advanced electronic materials are aimed at back-end-of-line and packaging applications in chip making, there are “applications beyond BEOL,” Pakbaz said at the conference.

“We see great promise for the LPSA material platform, not just in semiconductors, but also in various applications, including displays,” Dong-Su Kim, a vice president of Samsung Ventures America, said in a statement. He joined the SBA board of directors last year.

SBA has its material manufactured is Japan, Pakbaz noted, and it is working with imec in Belgium and Fraunhofer IPMS-CNT in Germany on development of its ultralow-k material.

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