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Linde Invests Over EUR 110M in China to Strengthen Position as Supplier of Choice for Electronics Manufacturers

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Gases and engineering company The Linde Group, through its electronics gases joint venture in China, Linde LienHwa, is expanding its commitment to China and the Asia Pacific region through investments of over EUR 110 million. The capital is being allocated for new on-site gas production facilities in major electronics manufacturing clusters in the eastern and central provinces of China. These investments with new and established customers will support multiple long-term contracts to provide electronics gases to leading-edge foundry, memory and flat panel display fabs.

Sanjiv Lamba, Member of the Executive Board of Linde AG and Chief Operating Officer for Asia Pacific, said, “These significant capital investments underscore Linde’s continued commitment to our business in Asia Pacific in general, and China, in particular, and build upon earlier investments and capabilities in the region, including the recent start-up of our state-of-the-art R&D center in Taichung, Taiwan. Asia will continue to be a growth driver for Linde and we will continue to invest in Asia.”

Stan Tang, President and General Manager of Linde LienHwa in China added, “Linde’s over EUR 110 million in new on-site plant investments demonstrates our commitment to the rapidly developing Chinese electronics manufacturing sector. The supply contracts that Linde has secured in China validate our customers’ confidence in the safety, quality and reliability of our gases supply and systems.”

SEMI (Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International), the global trade association that represents the electronics industry, estimates that more than 50 percent of new semiconductor fab investments in the next few years will be in China. China has made a large commitment to the electronics industry through the National IC Industry Investment Fund, more commonly known as The Big Fund, where it has pledged around EUR 20 billion from 2014 through 2017 to build the semiconductor industry in China. An additional EUR 82 billion is expected to be added from private equity funds and local governments.

Linde LienHwa, together with Linde’s Engineering Division, will design and construct these facilities. Linde SPECTRA-N® nitrogen generators have the highest level of operational efficiency, enabling lowest cost of ownership and reducing environmental footprint. These projects include multiple gaseous nitrogen plants, with a combined capacity of over 110,000 Nm3/hr (normal cubic meters per hour), plus several other bulk gas supply systems. All the plants will be on stream by the end of 2017.

Linde and its joint venture partners in China currently deliver gases solutions and systems to more than a dozen electronic production facilities across the major segments of the electronics industry, including those in semiconductor, display, solar and LED. Linde is also committed to meeting the electronic special gas (ESG) needs of its growing Chinese customer base. For example, Linde produces bulk amounts of key ESGs like ammonia (NH3) and nitrous oxide (N2O) in China, South Korea and Taiwan to ensure local supply and regional supply chain security.

Linde Electronics, the global electronics business of The Linde Group, supplies the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers in Taiwan, Korea and the US, and is securing a leading position in China with international and domestic manufacturers. Linde Electronics is committed to building an infrastructure of specialty gas capabilities and co-investment partnerships in China.

Linde Korea acquires Air Liquide Korea’s industrial merchant and electronics on-site and liquid bulk air gases business

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Linde Korea, a member of The Linde Group, today announced that it has completed the takeover of Air Liquide Korea’s industrial merchant and electronics on-site and liquid bulk air gases business in South Korea. The ten sites under this agreement complement Linde’s existing presence and offerings in the country. In addition, the acquisition of the direct bulk business is a natural fit with Linde’s strategy of growing its local direct bulk supply network and customer base. The agreement underscores Linde’s focus on serving the demands for industrial air gas products in the electronics, chemicals and manufacturing industries.

Sanjiv Lamba, Chief Operating Officer for Asia Pacific and Member of the Executive Board of Linde AG, said “I am delighted that we have concluded the acquisition of Air Liquide’s industrial merchant and electronics on-site and liquid bulk air gases business in South Korea. The acquired industrial merchant and electronics on-site facilities will further strengthen our existing extensive network of sites and customer density in South Korea, and support the growth intentions of major markets, particularly in the electronics sector. The acquisition is part of our strategy of delivering long-term sustainable profits in key markets in the region, and complements the recent investments we made in enhancing our R&D capabilities in Asia.”

Steven Fang, Regional Business Unit Head, East Asia, The Linde Group, said “Our track record of investments in South Korea underscores our long-term commitment to expand our business in the region. Our investments also reaffirm our commitment to key customers, including Korean conglomerates such as Samsung, LG, Lotte Chemical and SK Hynix, to support their growth plans, in South Korea and worldwide.”

Under this agreement, Linde Korea has completed takeover of Air Liquide Korea’s industrial merchant and electronics on-site and liquid bulk air gases business in South Korea. It includes the transfer of the related operating sites for the on-site plants as well as tanks and related equipment for liquid storage. In addition, the associated customer contracts have been transferred to Linde Korea, together with Air Liquide Korea employees who will continue to operate the plants and service customers.

Linde Korea first established its operations in Pohang in 1988. Over the past 30 years, it has continuously expanded its product and services portfolio, and footprint across the country. In the last 10 years alone, Linde Korea has invested over EUR 300 million in industrial gases production facilities and equipment, contributing to the country’s industrial growth and economic success. It includes the production facilities in Seosan and Giheung to produce high purity industrial gases, and its investment in the joint venture PSG, a leading distributor of merchant and packaged industrial gases in South Korea.

Linde Launches Asian R&D Center in Taiwan

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

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By Ed Korczynski, Sr. Technical Editor

Timed in coordination with SEMICON Taiwan 2016 happening in early September, The Linde Group launched a new electronics R&D Center in Taichung, Taiwan. “We had a fabulous opening, with 35 to 40 customers and 20 people from the Taiwanese government such as ITRI,” said Carl Jackson (Fig. 1), Head of Electronics, Technology and Innovation at The Linde Group, in an exclusive interview with SemiMD. This new R&D center represents an investment of approximately EUR 5m to support local customers and development partners throughout the Asia Pacific region with its state-of-the-art analytical and product development laboratory.

FIG1: Carl Jackson, Head of Electronics, Technology and Innovation, LindeGroup. (Source: The Linde Group)

Linde has dozens of labs around the world supporting different industries, all of which work in coordination with three main centers termed ‘hubs’ located in New Jersey, Munich, and Shanghai. This new electronics lab in Taichung will support customers in China, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and of course Taiwan. Working closely with local research partners and customers, the new center will also support development of local supply chains and local special gases manufacturing capabilities. “Customers do prefer a local supply-chain. There are examples in China where they’re even specifying a geographical limit around their fab, and if you’re outside that limit you can’t supply the materials,” said Jackson.

As a major step in collaborating with key regional partners in Taiwan, Linde is also entering into a collaboration agreement with the Industry Technology Research Institute (ITRI) of Taiwan. Jia-Ruey Duann, the vice president of ITRI, stated, “ ITRI values the cooperation on Electronic Specialty Gases (ESG) Production & Analysis with The Linde Group, and we look forward to working together to develop new products and services that benefit Taiwan’s electronics industry.”

Supporting Asia Pacific region

The R&D Center is part of an ongoing expansion and investment in the Asia Pacific region for Linde Electronics. Last year Linde commissioned the world’s largest on-site fluorine plant to supply SK Hynix, in addition to bringing multiple new electronics project on-stream in Asia. This year Linde announced that they have been awarded multiple gas and chemical supply wins for a number of world-leading photovoltaic cell manufacturers in Southeast Asia. “We’re talking about customer-specific applications in specific market segments,” explained Jackson. “They come to us with specific problems and the purpose of this lab is to find solutions.”

While this new lab supports manufacturing customers in LED, FPD, and PV industries, most of the demand for new materials comes from IC fabs. “Semiconductors always drive the materials focus, because it’s rare to find unique demands in the other markets,” said Jackson. “However, the scale can be much larger in the other segments, and that can drive improvements in gases used in semiconductor fabs. An example is ammonia which is used in huge volumes by LED fabs, and similarly when thin-film solar was happening there was huge demand for germane.”

Linde assists customers in realizing continuous technology progress through improvements in the ability to reduce chemical variability in existing products and in the development of new materials that are critical to support customers’ technology roadmaps. “We feel as thought we need to be better positioned to be able to support customers when they require it,” said Jackson. “Quite frankly, some materials don’t travel well. I’m not suggesting that suddenly we’ll start supplying everything locally, but this facility will help us start supplying customers throughout Asia.”

The Linde Electronics R&D Center (Fig. 2) will be used for improvement of product quality through advanced synthesis, purification, packaging and new applications development. These improvements are enabled by Linde’s advanced analytical processes and quality control systems that verify compositions and manage impurities.

FIG2: New electronics R&D center in Taichung, Taiwan will support customers throughout the Asia Pacific region. (Source: The Linde Group)

Analysis and Synthesis

“The way that we have it configured it has two distinct features that work together, but the main focus is on analysis and that’s where the main investment has been made,” explained Jackson. “We think that we probably have the most advanced lab in Asia and perhaps in the world. At least for the materials portfolio that we have we can do ‘finger-printing’ analysis, including all the trace-elements and all the metals, which is to say all the things that can potentially affect process.”

The second feature of this lab is the ability to create experimental quantities of completely new chemical and blends to meet the needs of customers working in advanced device R&D and in pilot-line production. The lab features new purification and new synthesis technologies that work on small quantities of materials. “One capability we have is to do binary- or mixed-component blends,” elaborated Jackson. “In terms of purification, we have a bench-scale set-up with absorbance and distillation, but generally that would be done somewhere else. That’s the advantage of being connected to the global network of labs.”

“There are unique requirements for every fab in every industry,” reminded Jackson. “For example, nitrous-oxide is a key critical-material for OLED manufacturing and you must maintain repeatability in every cylinder, in every truck, and down every pipe. How do you reduce the variability in the molecule regardless of the supply mode? Having the ability to do in-depth analysis certainly gives us a leg up.”

Since sustainability of the supply-chain is always essential, one trend is HVM fabs today is the consideration of recover methods for critical gases such as argon, helium, and neon. “In some cases it works, and particularly as the scale continues to grow. Being able to use the expertise from our Linde Engineering colleagues and scaling it to the right size for semiconductor manufacturing is really important for us.”

—E.K.

Global Neon Demand Expected to Exceed Increasing Supply

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

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By Ed Korczynski, Sr. Technical Editor

Neon (Ne) gas is a critical material for advanced semiconductor manufacturing because it is needed to blend with KrF and ArF gases as laser sources for lithographic steppers. High purity neon is separated from atmospheric gases and then purified using cryogenic processes in massive industrial facilities. Linde Electronics and Specialty Gases has made yet another investment to support its vertically integrated neon supply chain, by adding neon production capability to the company’s largest US based atmospheric gases unit (ASU) in La Porte, Texas, which produces oxygen, nitrogen and argon for the petroleum and petrochemical markets in the Houston area.

The total of more than US$250 million investment also includes upgrades to Linde’s purification and distribution capabilities at several locations around the world. The new production unit will add 40 million liters annually to Linde’s Ne supply, primarily to support customers in the semiconductor lithography and laser vision correction markets. “The unit attached to the ASU is being installed and will come on line this year,” explained Matt Adams, vice president, Electronics and Premium Products, Linde in an exclusive interview with the Show Daily. “Linde is also a multi-billion-dollar engineering company, and we have many ASUs around the world so that allows us to add rare-gas capture capacity globally.”

The Figure shows a recently published neon supply:demand forecast published by the Techcet Group. Brooks Hurd, Sr. Technology Analyst, Techcet explained to the Show Daily why it looks like Ne demand will eclipse supply by 2019, despite efforts to reduce gas use in lithography stepper tools and the use of neon recycling by large fabs. Capture of Ne from large ASU and purification/rectification are technologically challenging, such that few suppliers other than Linde have this capability. Outside of IC lithography, if the most aggressive forecasts for OLED FPD manufacturing are to be believed then the demand for laser annealing in OLED fabs could exceed the total demand of all IC fabs soon. The overall global supply picture including neon developments in Ukraine, US, and PRC, as well as the demand side dynamics are covered in the Techcet Neon Report and quarterly updates.

Global neon supply and demand forecasts through 2023. (Source: Techcet)

Recycling neon

“We’re able to capture better than 80% of the neon being used on the tool, and then send it back to one of our neon purifier to be returned to it’s original specification,” asserted Linde’s Adams. “The benefits to the fab are not so much about economics, but more about stability of supply.” The waste stream is captured and then shipped to a local Linde facility where the purification occurs and any blending needed to bring the composition back to that required for laser gases. To that end Linde has also announced investment into fluorine gas production.

“Linde already has a deep understanding of the latest technologies, OEM activity and customer requirements,” Adams said. “We have decades of experience in refining our global production, analytics, distribution and local stocking/service network. We believe this new investment will allow Linde to further enhance this leadership position well into the future.” All visitors are welcome to visit Linde in booth number 1505 in the South hall in the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Brooks Hurd, Sr. Technology Analyst with Techcet CA, commented, “When you’re designing a recycling system for laser gases you have to know what you are feeding it, and don’t expect that knowledge to be easy to get. Anybody wanting to recycle laser gases has to do an evaluation to determine what specific compounds are in the effluent stream.” For example, while fluorine has to be present, any time there is residual oxygen there will be undetermined oxy-fluorides forming.

Linde Supports New Wave of PV Plants in SE Asia

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

The Linde Group supports the expansion of photovoltaic solar cell manufacturing in Southeast Asia by offering its full portfolio of gases and wet chemicals, along with engineering services, to help the new PV cell plants being established in the region.

PV cell manufacturers are putting up greenfield factories in India, Malaysia, Thailand, and other countries, according to Linde.

The company supplies argon, helium, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen bulk gases, along with specialty gases for PV manufacturing, such as ammonia, carbon dioxide, diborane, hydrogen fluoride, methane, nitrous oxide, phosphine, and silane. Through Asia Union Electronic Chemical Corp., a Linde subsidiary with plants in China and Taiwan, Linde also supplies high-purity aqueous acids, bases, and etchants.

“Linde is the leading gas and chemical provider in the Southeast Asia region, with a long history in each of the individual countries in which we operate. Project windows are very short and customers need a materials supplier who can successfully execute sourcing, logistics and engineering solutions on aggressive timelines. Being close to our customers with the right resources means that Linde already has a multi-functional team in place on day one, and can help them ramp production as quickly as possible. Because of all we have to offer, we have become partners with PV manufacturers who have an immediate need for a well-functioning, reliable supply chain,” Andreas Weisheit, Head of Linde Electronics, said in a statement.

The Linde Engineering services division is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, supporting Linde operations in Southeast Asia and around the world.

New Materials: A Paradox of the Unknown

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

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By Pete Singer, Editor-in-Chief

The semiconductor industry has slowly been implementing a growing array of new materials in an effort to boost speed and performance, reduce power consumption and reduce leakage. From the 1960s through the 1990s, only a handful of materials were used, most notably silicon, silicon oxide, silicon nitride and aluminum. Soon, by 2020, more than 40 different materials will be in high-volume production, including more exotic materials such as hafnium, ruthenium, zirconium, strontium, complex III-Vs (such as InGaAs), cobalt and SiC (Figure 1).

Figure 1

At the same time, semiconductor manufacturing processes are executed at the atomic level. Atomic layer deposition, atomic layer etching and atomic layer epitaxy are now common.

One of the challenges with new materials and atomic-level processing is that new and unexpected reactions can occur due to the trace impurities in the gases used during production. These impurities may be organic materials or trace levels of oxygen, nitrogen or other elements.

Jean-Charles Cigal

Jean-Charles Cigal, market development manager at Linde in Pullach, Germany, said a growing concern is that gases that have the same specification as before suddenly are not working the same way. “There are a lot of impurities that weren’t a problem before. They are now reacting because you have new materials on the wafer,” he said. “Process engineers don’t know what to look at in terms of impurities. That’s the paradox of the unknown.”

To help customers avoid such problems, gas supplier Linde has implemented tools commonly used in the semiconductor industry, including statistical process control (SPC), statistical quality control (SQC) and a lab information management system (LIMS). “The advantage of having this statistical process strategy is the ability to more rapidly correct any quality issue,” Cigal said.

A “fingerprinting” strategy also comes into play. “We’re using broad spectrum analyzers to get a lot of data and check everything possible. We want to do detection and correction of any quality issue before it reaches the fab,” Cigal said. If an unexpected quality issue is later identified at the fab, Linde can step in with forensic analysis using a database of information.

It is not cost-effective to simply specify higher and higher levels of purity. Instead, Cigal says targeted specifications are now the norm. “In the past, people were asking for the highest purity. Give me a 7.0 silane. Now they are saying OK, give me a silane with 5.0 but I don’t want this organic material,” he said. Linde’s HiQ portfolio offers more than 100 different pure gases such as HiQ Nitrogen 5.0 and HiQ Argon 6.0. Purity is commonly expressed as a two digit number. For example, Helium with a purity of 99.9996% would be described as HiQ Helium 5.6 with the 5 representing the number of nines, while the 6 represents the first digit following the nines.

“What we want ultimately is to get a full picture of what is inside (the gas) and to make the customer aware,” Cigal said. “We don’t know everything about the customers’ processes, but Linde is building large database that will help electronics manufacturers identify what impurities might react in certain processes.”

Customers are now asking for specifications just under the detection limits. We are continuously acquiring analytical tools that will help them to better understand the composition of their materials, which ultimately helps to improve their manufacturing yield.

The semiconductor industry demands very high-purity materials and yet electronics materials suppliers often receive raw materials of very low quality. To ensure that customers get the high-quality materials they require, Linde takes on the responsibility of being the quality gate keeper and controls the whole supply chain – from the source, through purification, and transportation.

Editor’s Note: Jean-Charles Cigal is currently Market Development Manager at Linde Electronics. In his role, Jean-Charles supports electronics customers and equipment manufacturers to achieve their roadmap with the introduction of new processes and materials. He joined Linde as principal technologist in 2009, where he was technology consultant for the semiconductor and the photovoltaic industry.  Prior to joining the Linde Group, Jean-Charles worked several years as senior process engineer in the semiconductor industry. He owns a M.Sc. in Applied Physics from Pierre et Marie Curie University, Paris, France, and a PhD in Applied Physics from Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands.

Gases: Completely Necessary to Semiconductor Manufacturing

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

Silicon wafers. Semiconductor packaging. These are commonly known products in materials for manufacturing and assembling microchips.

Process gases? Not as familiar a commodity, yet they are just as critical to semiconductor manufacturing.

Some of the biggest gas suppliers have reported greater profits this year, while revenues have declined for certain companies, largely due to the strength of the U.S. dollar against other currencies.

Air Liquide reported revenue in its Gas & Services segment was up by 6.3 percent in the first quarter, while its Electronics grew revenue 14.4 percent compared with a year ago. “Sales were particularly vigorous in China, in Taiwan, in Japan, and in the United States,” the company said in a statement.

For its fiscal second quarter ended March 31, Air Products & Chemicals reported net income was up 19 percent from a year earlier to $336 million, while sales declined 6 percent to $2.415 billion.

“Volumes increased four percent, primarily in Industrial Gases-Asia and Materials Technologies, and pricing was up one percent,” the company stated. Industrial Gases-Asia had a 7 percent increase in sales during the quarter, to $393 million. “Electronics Materials sales were up 16 percent on strong volume growth in all business units and positive price,” Air Products said.

Praxair reported first-quarter net income of $416 million. Sales were $2.757 billion, down 9 percent from a year earlier, due to the impact of negative currency translation. The company is forecasting 2015 revenue of $11.4 billion to $11.7 billion.

Financial results from the quarter ended June 30 will be reported later this month.

“The quantity and number of gases are increasing quite dramatically,” says Anish Tolia, head of global marketing for Linde Electronics, part of the Linde Group. “Fabs are getting larger, clustered in one location. The amount of gas per wafer is increasing.”

Some of the increases in gas usage are due to double patterning and multiple patterning in lithography steps, according to Tolia. “More tools, more gas,” he observes.

Nitrogen is the most-used gas, typically employed for purging of pumps and vacuum chambers, Tolia notes. “It is also used as a process gas,” he says. Wafer fabrication facilities making chips with 28-nanometer or 20nm features can go through 20,000 to 30,000 cubic meters in an hour.

Hydrogen is another significant commodity gas, Tolia says. “Extreme-ultraviolet lithography will boost its use,” he adds.

Process gases are in demand for etching and deposition, particularly in chemical vapor deposition, and less so in physical vapor deposition, according to Tolia.

The semiconductor industry is a “strong consumer” of helium, a cooling gas, Tolia says. “Supply has improved,” he notes, with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management maintaining a helium reserve. “A few new sources have been developed; the pressure is off,” he adds.

Helium, which comes with natural gas, is not a renewable resource, Tolia notes. “It’s not a gas from air,” he says.

With the concentration of fabs at some locations, such as the Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park in Taiwan, those sites could have a generating facility. “We could set up an air separation unit near there,” Tolia says. And some fabs have captive air separation units.

With on-site supply, “as close to their fabs as possible,” Linde Electronics is better able to serve its customers, Tolia says, with “minimized leadtimes, quick troubleshooting, quick response to disasters.”

Gases are essential to the semiconductor industry. Have you thanked a gas supplier lately?

Blog review December 16, 2014

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Maybe, just maybe, ASML Holding N.V. (ASML) has made the near-impossible a reality by creating a cost-effective Extreme Ultra-Violet (EUV @ ~13.5nm wavelength) all-reflective lithographic tool. The company has announced that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd. (TSMC) has ordered two NXE:3350B EUV systems for delivery in 2015 with the intention to use those systems in production. In addition, two NXE:3300B systems already delivered to TSMC will be upgraded to NXE:3350B performance. While costs and throughputs are conspicuously not-mentioned, this is still an important step for the industry.

The good and the great of the electron device world will make their usual pilgrimage to San Francisco for the 2014 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting. Dick James of Chipworks writes that it’s the conference where companies strut their technology, and post some of the research that may make it into real product in the next few years.

The 4th Annual Global Interposer Technology Workshop at GaTech gathered 200 attendees from 11 countries to discuss the status of interposer technology. It has become the one meeting where you can find all the key interposer layers including those representing glass, laminate and silicon, blogs Phil Garrou.

Sharon C. Glotzer and Nicholas A. Kotov are both researchers at the University of Michigan who were just awarded a MRS Medal at the Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall Meeting in San Francisco for their work on “Integration of Computation and Experiment for Discovery and Design of Nanoparticle Self-Assembly.”

In order to keep pace with Moore’s Law, semiconductor market leaders have had to adopt increasingly challenging technology roadmaps, which are leading to new demands on electronic materials (EM) product quality for leading-edge chip manufacturing. Dr. Atul Athalye, Head of Technology, Linde Electronics, discusses the challenges.

ST further accelerates its FD-SOI ROs* by 2ps/stage, and reduces SRAM’s VMIN by an extra 70mV. IBM shows an apple-to-apple comparison of 10nm FinFETs on Bulk and SOI. AIST improves the energy efficiency of its FPGA by more than 10X and Nikon shows 2 wafers can be bonded with an overlay accuracy better than 250nm. Adele Hars reports.

Does your design’s interconnect have high enough wire width to withstand ESD? Frank Feng of Mentor Graphics writes in his blog that although applying DRC to check for ESD protection has been in use for a while, designers still struggle to perform this check, because a pure DRC approach can’t identify the direction of an electrical current flow, which means the check can’t directly differentiate the width or length of a wire polygon against a current flow.

At the recent IMAPS conference, Samsung electro-mechanics compared their Plated Mold Via Technology (PMV) to the well known Amkor Through Mold Via  (TMV) technology. The two process flows are compared. Phil Garrou reports.

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.

Sustainability through Materials Recovery

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

By Paul Stockman, Linde Electronics

Increased costs of development and manufacturing are challenging the continuation of Moore’s Law. Manufacturing processes are dependent on critical materials supplied by complex, global supply chains. Additionally, regulations are increasing and there is more of a demand for and focus on green manufacturing. To stay competitive and lay the foundation for sustainable manufacturing processes, electronics manufacturers need supply chain security, flexible logistical solutions, and a lower carbon footprint.

Because manufacturing plants are often located far from the source of materials, some materials are rare and/or difficult to procure, and being good environmental stewards is imperative to companies, recovering and reusing materials is becoming an increasingly essential consideration in order to ensure consistent quality, a stable supply of materials, and lower costs.

Linde offers three main types of material recovery solutions:

  1. On-site, closed-loop recovery – Materials are recovered on site, purified, and are available for re-use in the manufacturing process.
  2. On-site, open-loop recovery – Materials are recovered on site and are available for use in other applications.
  3. Off-site recovery – High-cost materials are recovered, shipped off site, and purified at an external facility for re-use.

Helium, argon, sulfuric acid, and xenon are vital to electronics manufacturing and are among the materials that offer real value when recovered.

On-site, closed-loop recovery

Helium, fairly rare on earth and a finite resource, is the second lightest element and the coldest liquid, making it useful in electronics manufacturing for cooling, plasma processing, and leak detection.

Several core technologies can be combined in a hybridized plant to separate, purify, and optionally liquefy helium and extend helium recovery to electronics applications, where the waste streams are often more diluted and contaminated. Groups of large fabs clustered in one major site can realize the greatest cost advantages of a helium recovery system.

The benefits of an on-site helium, closed-loop recovery system are steady access to a finite resource at lower costs.

Linde helium recovery and liquefaction plant in Skikda, Algeria

Argon: There are sufficient supplies of argon, a gas that makes up 1% of the air, to meet global demand, but users are often located far from the sources of this heavily-used material, making it challenging to get materials on time and on budget. Argon has applications in the electronics industry in the deep UV lithography lasers used to pattern the smallest features in semiconductor chips and in plasma deposition and etching processes.

Two applications use so much argon that they alone make on-site recovery worthwhile. Large amounts of argon are used daily in the manufacture of silicon wafers to protect the silicon crystal from reactions with oxygen and nitrogen while it is being grown at temperatures > 1400 o C. In addition, small drops of liquid argon are used with tools to clean debris from minute, fragile chip structures.

Argon can be recovered most economically through on-site Air Separation Units (ASUs). The process recovers 80% of the original argon, takes only minutes, and is nearly identical to the process used in the original production of argon.

The benefits of an on-site, closed-loop argon recovery system are reduced transportation costs and logistics challenges and a steady supply of argon.

On-site, open-loop recovery

Sulfuric acid: Due to its strong oxidizing properties, sulfuric acid is highly corrosive to metals, making it ideal for removing extraneous particles and cleaning semiconductors. Stringent regulations surround the disposal of sulfuric acid due to its capacity to destroy other materials and cause severe burns in humans. At very large semiconductor sites, traffic congestion can occur with the constant delivery of fresh sulfuric acid and removal of the waste.

One option is to dispose of the sulfuric acid waste by neutralizing and diluting it until it reaches acceptable, regulated levels for discharge to general waste water. Another option is to cleanse the waste for re-use, which can be done at an on-site system. This allows recovery of a high percentage of the sulfuric acid from the waste material, which is purified for re-use in electronics manufacturing¾or other¾processes.

The benefits of an on-site, open-loop recovery system are reduced disposal costs and associated demands for fresh water and waste water volumes, lower environmental impact, and decreased logistics complications and traffic.

Off-site recovery

Xenon, a very rare gas in the air, is obtained as a byproduct of the liquefaction and separation of air. It is used in electronics manufacturing in small amounts in lithography lasers and in higher amounts and concentrations in etch applications. Xenon can be used alone or as the fluorinated compound xenon difluoride in plasma etching.

Because of the low availability and high cost of xenon¾only about 10 million liters are made each year due to the low starting concentration¾it is prudent to capture the after-use, residual xenon and ship it to a rare gas manufacturing center for re-purification and packaging. The submitting fab then receives a credit for the xenon recovered at their site toward future purchases of xenon.

The benefits of recovering xenon are that it facilitates the increase in supply of the rare gas and stabilizes the cost of xenon for larger users.

Materials recovery innovations and sustainability in manufacturing processes

To meet the high demands of today and to build a sustainable future, electronics manufacturers must not only be cutting-edge in their technology, but also in their manufacturing processes. One way to do this is through implementing one or more of these materials recovery systems, which are offered by Linde. By doing so, not only will electronics manufacturers lessen the strain on natural resources, but they will also reduce their own costs, secure a steady supply of materials, and mitigate complex logistics problems.

For more information, contact Francesca Brava: francesca.brava@linde.com