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Patterning with Films and Chemicals

August 24th, 2016

Somewhere around 40nm is the limit on the smallest half-pitch feature that can be formed with a single-exposure of 193-nm wavelength laser light using water immersion (193i) lithography. While multiple-patterning (MP) is needed to achieve tighter half-pitches, smaller features at the same pitch can be formed using technology extensions of 193i. “Chemistry is key player in lithography process,” is the title of a short video presentation by Dow Electronic Materials corporate fellow Peter Trefonas now hosted on the SPIE website (DOI: 10.1117/2.201608.02).

Trefonas as been working on chemistries for lithography for decades, including photoresists, antireflectant coatings, underlayers, developers, ancillary products, and environmentally safer green products. He is an inventor on 61 US patents, has over 25 additional published active U.S. patent applications, is an author of 99 journal and technical publications, and is a recipient of the 2014 ACS Heroes of Chemistry Award and the 2013 SPIE C. Grant Willson Best Paper Award in Patterning Materials and Processes. Now a Senior Member of SPIE, he earned his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry with Prof. Robert West at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1985.

Trefonas explains how traditional Chemically-Amplified (CA) resists are engineered with Photo-Acid Generators (PAG) to balance the properties for advanced lithography. However, in recent years the ~40-nm half-pitch resolution limit has been extended with chemistries to shrink contact holes, smooth line-width roughness, and to do frequency-multiplication using Directed Self-Assembly (DSA). All of these resolution extension technologies rely upon chemistry to create the final desired pattern fidelity.

—E.K.

ASM’s Haukka ALD Award

August 1st, 2016

Dr. Suvi Haukka, executive scientist at ASM International, located Finland, was awarded the ALD Innovation prize at the ALD 2016 Ireland conference (Figure), as chosen by the conference chair(s). Haukka has had a lifetime career in Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD), starting at Microchemistry Ltd. with ALD pioneer Dr. Tuomo Suntola in 1990, and now holding over 100 patents.

Conference co-chairs Simon Elliott, Tyndall National Institute of Ireland (left) and Jonas Sundqvist, Lund University of Sweden (right) acknowledge Suvi Haukka from ASM International N.V. (center) as recipient of the "ALD Innovation Prize" at the 16th International Conference on Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD 2016) held last month in Dublin, Ireland. (Source: ALD 2016) Conference co-chairs Simon Elliott, Tyndall National Institute of Ireland (left) and Jonas Sundqvist, Lund University of Sweden (right) acknowledge Suvi Haukka from ASM International N.V. (center) as recipient of the “ALD Innovation Prize” at the 16th International Conference on Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD 2016) held last month in Dublin, Ireland. (Source: ALD 2016)

Since ASM bought Microchemistry in 1999, Haukka has worked on the manufacturability of ALD processes for the semiconductor industry. A major milestone was the adoption of ALD by Intel in CMOS transistor gate dielectrics in 2007. Today, ALD equipment manufacturing is a multi-US$100M business yearly, with growing demand for the fabrication of nanoscale 3D devices such as finFETs and 3D-NAND Flash cells.

Haukka joins a short list of technology luminaries who have been previous recipients of the prize:
* 2011 Roy Gordon (Harvard University),
* 2012 Markku Leskelä (University of Helsinki),
* 2013 Steven George (University of Colorado),
* 2014 Hyeongtag Jeon (Hanyang University), and
* 2015 Gregory Parsons (North Carolina State University).

More on the ALD 2016 conference can be read in the travel report by Riikka Puurunen.

[DISCLAIMER:  Ed Korczynski and Jonas Sundqvist also work for TECHCET CA, and were co-chairs of the 2016 Critical Materials Conference.]

—E.K.

The Last Technology Roadmap

July 25th, 2016

After many delays, the last ever International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) has been published. Now that there are just a few companies remaining in the world developing new fab technologies in each of the CMOS logic and memory spaces, each leading-edge company has a secret internal roadmap and little motivation to compare directions within fiercely competitive  commercial markets. Solid State Technology Chief Editor Pete Singer covered these developments in his blog post early last year.

Rachael Courtland at IEEE Spectrum provides a great overview of the topic and interviews many of the key contributors to this last global effort. The article provides a nice graph to show how the previously predicted (in the just-prior ITRS 2013 edition) continued physical gate length reduction of CMOS transistors is now expected to stop in 2020. Henceforth, 3D stacking of transistors—perhaps built with arrays of Gate-All-Around NanoWires (GAA-NW)—will be the only way to get more density in circuitry but it will come with proportionally increasing cost.

As Gary Patton, CTO and SVP of Worldwide R&D for GlobalFoundries, mentioned during the 2016 Imec Technology Forum in Brussells, “We will continue to provide value to our customers to be able to create new products. We’re going to innovate to add value other than simple scaling.”

The 17 International Technology Working Groups (ITWGs) were replaced in 2015 by 7 Focus Teams in the last ITRS:  System Integration, Heterogeneous Integration, Heterogeneous Components, Outside System Connectivity, More Moore, Beyond CMOS and Factory Integration. The final reports from each Focus Team are available for free download from Dropbox.

The IEEE Rebooting Computing Initiative, Standards Association, and the Computer Society announced a new International Roadmap for Devices and Systems (IRDS) on 4th of May this year. Paolo Gargini is leading this work that began with the partnership between the IEEE RC initiative and the ITRS, with aspiration to build “a comprehensive end-to-end view of the computing ecosystem, including devices, components, systems, architecture, and software.”

In parallel to the IRDS efforts, the Heterogeneous Integration Roadmap activities will continue as sponsored by IEEE Components, Packaging and Manufacturing Technology Society (CPMT), SEMI  and the IEEE Electron Devices Society (EDS). Bill Bottoms is leading this collaboration with other IEEE Technical Societies that share interest in the Heterogeneous Technology Roadmap as well as to organizations outside IEEE that share this common vision for the roadmap.

—E.K.

Broadening Scope of SEMICON

June 30th, 2016

Once upon a time, SEMICONs were essentially just for semiconductor manufacturing business and technology, and predominantly CMOS ICs. Back when we followed public roadmaps for technology to maintain the cadence of new manufacturing nodes in support of Moore’s Law, it was sufficient to focus on faster transistors connected with tighter wires. Now in an era that is at least partially “More-than-Moore”—as we like to refer to heterogeneous integration of non-CMOS technologies into commercial ICs—SEMICON West 2016 will focus on technologies beyond silicon CMOS such as MEMS and flexible organic semiconductors.

Alissa Fitzgerald, founder and managing member of AM Fitzgerald & Associates, will present on some of these themes Wednesday afternoon during the “What’s Next in MEMS and Sensors: Innovations to Drive the Next Generation of Growth” session (Track 2) of SEMICON’s Advanced Manufacturing Forum. Much of that growth is expected to be in sensors, microprocessors, ultra-low-power supplies, and communications chips to support the Internet of Things (IoT) connected by high-speed 5G data networks.

Flexible/Hybrid Electronics Forum at SEMICON West this year includes two full days of excellent presentations on new technologies that include thinned device processing, device/sensor integrated printing and packaging, and reliability testing and modeling. The following is the full list of forums this year:

  • Advanced Manufacturing,
  • Advanced Packaging,
  • Extended Supply-Chain,
  • Flexible/Hybrid Electronics,
  • Silicon Innovation,
  • Sustainable Manufacturing,
  • Test, and
  • World of IoT.

Partner programs include focused forums discussing trends in technology, markets, and the business of commercial IC fabrication. The industry’s default center of “More Moore” R&D is now imec in Belgium, and invited attendees of the imec technology forum (ITF) in San Francisco happening on July 11th the day before the start of SEMICON West will learn about the latest results in CMOS device shrinking from finFETs to nanowires. The next evening, French R&D and pilot manufacturing center CEA-Leti will lead a workshop detailing how to partner with the organization to bring sensor-based “More-than-Moore” technologies to market. Thursday morning will feature the Entegris Yield Breakfast Forum discussing the need for new materials handling solutions due to “Yield Enhancement Challenges in Today’s Memory IC Production.”

As the official event website summarizes:  We’ve deepened our reach across the full electronics manufacturing supply chain to connect you with more key players — including major industry leaders like Cisco, Samsung, Intel, Audi, Micron, and more. New players, demand generators, systems integrators, and emerging industry segments — all connecting in one place. Keynote presentations will be provided by Cisco Systems, Kateeva, and Oracle.

—E.K.

Dow Kills CIGS Solar Shingles

June 29th, 2016

The mega-merger between Dow and DuPont has already shaken out an under-performing product line:  Powerhouse(TM) solar singles. As reported at PVTech, over 100 jobs in Milpitas, California and in Midland, Michigan will be lost along with the production line that assembles the copper-indium-gallium-sulfide (CIGS) cells into thin-film Building-Integrated PhotoVoltaic (BIPV) rooftop shingles. BIPV markets are very slow to grow due to inherent risk-aversion in considering new building materials, and it has been difficult to cobble together sufficient consumer demand for upgrades to existing roofs to support a profitable business. Dow had offered a 20-year product warranty and optional financing to try to move the market.

(Source: Dow) (Source: Dow)

“We’re looking at this one product that could generate $5 billion in revenue by 2015 and $10 billion by 2020,” Jane Palmieri, managing director of Dow Solar Solutions, told Reuters in a 2009 interview. Dow had used CIGS cells from Global Solar for a first-generation of the product line, and then acquired NuvoSun in 2013 to own it’s own thin-film CIGS manufacturing technology in anticipation of booming demand for large solar shingles with integrated internal electronics and easy rooftop installation.

When comparing the benefits of different PV product offerings, one factor dominates the decision:  all PV installations are area-constrained, and rooftops are extreme examples. The cost of the panel hardware is typically only ~25% of the complete installed system, with Balance Of System (BOS) costs for electronics and installation and financing and permits and non-recurring engineering (NRE). CIGS BIPV may cost less than silicon BIPV, but reduced conversion efficiency means less power can be produced from the roof and when you “do the math” it is always more profitable to use the most efficient PV possible.

Eric Wesoff at GreenTechMedia reported on the status of the thin-film CIGS PV segment of the industry last August when TSMC finally decided to cut losses and shutdown it’s CIGS pilot line. Wesoff reports that over US$2B in Venture Capital investments in CIGS companies has been written-off in the last decade, and that Solar Frontier is the only company selling market competitive CIGS panels with profit.

It is worth noting that the market for solar shingles had been poisoned by pathetic products from UniSolar leaving a severely negative impression on consumers. UniSolar was part of the Energy Conversion Devices portfolio of shell-companies that went bankrupt in 2012, and the UniSolar solar shingles had 6-8% cell efficiency using amorphous-silicon (a-Si) and no integration with electronics such that a hole had to be drilled through the roof for each shingle to connect to a micro-inverter (leading to extreme installation costs and an inherently leaky roof). So unfortunately, Dow faced a severe up-hill-battle in the roofing market to fight against a negative impression of all solar shingles.

—E.K.

Eloquent Executives Ecosystem Expositions

May 30th, 2016

#cmc,#confab,#namedropping

With dimensional scaling reaching economic limits, each company in the IC fab industry must rely upon trusted connections with customers and suppliers to know which way to go, and the only way to gain trusted connections is through attending live events. Fortunately, whether you are an executive, and engineer, or an investor, there is at least one must-attend event happening these days to keep you informed.

We should always start with SEMI (sponsor of SemiMD, personal friends for many years) who has always represented the gold standard for trade-shows, executive events, and manufacturing symposia around the world. I attended my first SEMICON/West in 1988, and have since attended excellent SEMICONs in Europe, Japan, Korea, China, and Singapore. This year’s SEMICON gathering in San Francisco will feature a nearly 50% increase in the number of technical sessions.

SEMI ran another excellent Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference (ASMC) in Albany this month, featuring keynotes by visionaries such as “Nanoscale III-V CMOS” by MIT Professor Jesus A. del Alamo. The panel discussion “Moore’s Law Wall vs. Moore’s Wallet, and where do we grow from here,” was moderated by industry veteran Paul Werbaneth, now with Intevac. It is clear that we will reach economic limits of scaling well before the physical limits.

Materials technology and supply-chain solutions to extend economic limits were discussed by Intel’s VP of Technology and Manufacturing Tim Hendry in a keynote at the Critical Materials Conference (CMC) held this year in Oregon in early May, as produced by Techcet CA (I am also an analyst with Techcet and co-chair of this event, while Solid State Technology was a media sponsor). David Thompson, Senior Director, Center of Excellence in Chemistry, Applied Materials showed that despite the inherent “Agony in New Material Introductions – minimizing and correlating variabilities” is possible with improved collaboration throughout the supply-chain.

The Imec Technology Forum in Brussells this month (Solid State Technology was a media sponsor) could best be described with Lake Wobegone hyperbole that all the women were strong, the men were good-looking, and everyone was above average. The big news is imec acquiring iMinds for greater synergies when integrating the latter’s algorithms with imec-ecosystem hardware for application-specific solutions. Gary Patton, now CTO and SVP of Global R&D for GLOBALFOUNDRIES, reminded everyone at ITF of the inherent speed constraints of the copper wires and low-k dielectrics needed to connect IC transistors, “As I’ve often said, It’s like you have a Ferrari but you’re towing a boat if you don’t address the interconnect delay issues.” Regardless, Patton confidently declares that, “We will continue to provide value to our customers to be able to create new products, and we will innovate in ways other than simple scaling.”

At ITF, a video was shown of imec president Luc van den Hove interviewing Gordon Moore at his beachfront home in Hawaii. Moore has always been humble and claims no special ability to forecast trends. “It would not surprise me if we reached the end of scaling in the next decade,” said Moore. “I missed the importance of the PC, and I missed the importance of the internet. Predicting the future is a difficult job and I leave it to someone else.”

Wally Rhines seemed able to predict the future when he eloquent expounded upon Moore’s Law as a special-case learning-curve in his presentation at ITF. Rhines will provide one of the keynote addresses at the ConFab in Las Vegas this year (Solid State Technology’s home event, co-sponsored by SEMI and by IEEE-CPMT). Executives from the global industry will gather to hear insights and analysis on the challenges facing all companies in the ecosystem, as we search for profitable pathways in a more complex landscape.

—E.K.

Trefonas Earns 2016 Perkin Medal

May 21st, 2016

The Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), America Group, announced on May 5, 2016 that Peter Trefonas, Ph.D., corporate fellow in Electronic Materials at Dow Chemical Co (NYSE:DOW), has won the 2016 SCI Perkin Medal. This honor recognizes Trefonas’ contributions in the development of chemicals that enable microlithography for the fabrication of microelectronic circuits. Trefonas will receive the medal at a dinner in his honor on Tuesday, September 13, 2016, at the Hilton Penn’s Landing Hotel in Philadelphia.

TrefonasTrefonas made major contributions to the development of many successful products which are used in the production of integrated circuits spanning device design generations from 2 microns to 14 nanometers. These include photoresists, antireflectant coatings, underlayers, developers, and ancillary products. At the most recent SPIE Advanced Lithography conference he was part of a team that presented on the use of a resolution extension material, “Chemical trimming overcoat: an enhancing composition and process for 193nm lithography.”

He is an inventor on 61 US patents, has over 25 additional published active U.S. patent applications, is an author of 99 journal and technical publications, and is a recent recipient of both the 2014 ACS Heroes of Chemistry Award and the 2014 SPIE Willson Award. His research career began at Monsanto, and moved via acquisitions by Shipley, Rohm&Haas, and Dow.

—E.K.

RFID Playing Cards “Best Product” at Printed Electronics Europe

April 30th, 2016

Cartamundi, imec and Holst Centre (set up by imec and TNO) recently won the Best Product Award at Printed Electronics Europe for their ultra-thin plastic RFID technology integrated into Cartamundi’s playing cards. In each card, the RFID chip has a unique code that communicates wirelessly to an RFID reader, giving the cards in the game a unique digital identity. The jury recognized the potential of this technology to enhance printed electronics applications for the Internet-of-Things (IoT), as well as being a gamechanger <RIMSHOT> for the gaming industry.

Cartamundi-imec_RFID_PrintedChris Van Doorslaer, CEO of Cartamundi, said, “The new technology will connect traditional game play with electronic devices like smartphones and tablets. As Cartamundi is committed to creating products that connect families and friends of every generation to enhance the valuable quality time they share during the day, this technology is a real enabler.” Imec and Cartamundi engineers will now explore up-scaling of the technology using a foundry production model.

“This is a thrilling development to demonstrate our TOLAE electronic technology integrated in the product of a partner company. TOLAE stands for Thin, Oxide and Large-Area Electronics”, stated Paul Heremans, department director of thin-film electronics at imec and technology director at the Holst Centre. “Our prototype thin-film RFID is thinner than paper—so thin that it can be invisibly embedded in paper products, such as playing cards. This key enabling technology will bring the cards and traditional games of our customer in direct connection with the Cloud. This achievement also opens up new applications in the IoT domain that we are exploring, to bring more data and possibilities to applications such as smart packaging, security paper, and maybe even banknotes.”

—E.K.

Omhi kept us Ultra-Clean

April 28th, 2016

OhmiSadly, I just recently learned from the UCPSS 2016 website that Ohmi-sensei—Professor Doctor Tadahiro Ohmi—passed away in Sendai on 21 February 2016. As the guru of ultra-clean technology, he established the global Ultra Clean Society in 1988, founded the International Symposium of Semiconductor Manufacturing (ISSM) in 1992, served as program committee member of the UCPSS between 1992 and 2006, and was an IEEE Fellow. Ohmi was a Professor of New Industry Creation Hatchery Center at Tohoku University, after serving as a Professor at the Electronic Engineering Department, School of Engineering at Tohoku U.

Ohmi was most famous for asserting that IC manufacturing yield could be 100% if only every tool and tube in the fab were built with ultra-clean surfaces, and if all direct-materials and fluids flowing in the fab were ultra-clean. In the 1980s when IC designs and fab processes were relatively simple and HVM yields were in the 30-60% range, huge improvements came from removing “random” particles from dirty surfaces. Soon enough by the mid-1990s  “clean enough” was found to be the pragmatic response to the experience of diminishing returns after yields were in the 90% range. Most famously for posterity, in 1993 Ohmi edited “Ultraclean Technology Handbook: Ultrapure Water, Vol.1”.

I first met him when UltraClean Technology, Inc. (UCTT) was founded in California in 1996 to weld ultra-clean steel from parent company Mitsubishi in a Class-1 cleanroom, and he was the genius bringing his vision of a better world to the rest of us. However, eventually UCTT separated from Mitsubishi and added Class-100 and Class-1000 assembly areas to provide “clean enough” technology…heresy to the Guru of ultra-clean; I never met him again when I worked for the company as a product manager in 2004.

As covered by EETimes in 2002, Ohmi could clearly see that something new was going to be needed in fab technology, but his vision for a way forward was an unrealizable dream:

Ohmi said his comprehensive process, from design through chip making, would create devices with 10 times better performance than today’s chips. At the same time, he said, it would squeeze design and production time to 1/40, clean room space to 1/5 and production cost to 1/10 of what’s now required.

Throughout his career he continued to look for breakthroughs to enable new generations of semiconductor manufacturing technology, recently supervising a project to develop a “next-generation flat panel display.”

An extraordinarily prolific inventor, his name is on an astonishing 592 issued US patents, based on 795 US applications filed, the most recent on December 21st of last year.

—E.K.

Andy Grove blessed us all

March 22nd, 2016

andrew-grove_1-150x150Andy Grove, the man who codified the commercial IC industry dynamic as “Only the Paranoid Survive” died yesterday at the age of 79. His instinctive paranoia derived from his tragic experiences while growing up in Hungary, as referenced by Wikipedia in the prolog to “Swimming Across: a Memoir”:

By the time I was twenty, I had lived through a Hungarian Fascist dictatorship, German military occupation, the Nazis’ “Final Solution,” the siege of Budapest by the Soviet Red Army, a period of chaotic democracy in the years immediately after the war, a variety of repressive Communist regimes, and a popular uprising that was put down at gunpoint. . . [where] many young people were killed; countless others were interned. Some two hundred thousand Hungarians escaped to the West. I was one of them.

Grove was responsible for guiding Intel in the 1980s through the amazingly risky yet ultimately wildly successful strategy of abandoning memory chip production as part of a diversified product portfolio to “bet the company” on microprocessors. In the September 1997 issue of Solid State Technology, I wrote an article titled “DRAM fab strategies in Asia” that summarizes why and how US companies like Intel strategically abandoned DRAM production:

In the 1960s, US companies created the IC manufacturing industry and enjoyed virtually unchallenged world dominance through the 1970s. Japanese IC companies, though at first the junior companies in low-margin and foundry partnerships, rose to challenge the more senior US companies in the 1980s. By the latter half of the 1980s, Japan effectively owned the DRAM business and Japan`s outstanding success in IC production can be directly traced to early US manufacturing partnerships. One strategy played out by US companies with portfolios of memory chip designs was outsourcing of DRAM production to Korean companies. In so doing, US companies committed their futures to non-DRAM products such as microprocessors, DSPs, and ASICs.

Few executives have sufficient vision while leading a work-force with sufficient discipline to be able to re-invent a company in such a way. The capital equipment investments needed to create a leading-edge IC fab have always been daunting, and as Intel employee #3 who had led engineering Grove was able to see a way to leverage strategic R&D to ensure that leading-edge IC product functionalities would pull in sufficient demand to keep the fabs full. Not only did the fabs stay full, but the x86 microprocessor profit margins allowed Intel to grow to annual sales of $25 billion by the time he was replaced as CEO by Craig Barrett in 1998.

The San Jose Mercury News and EETimes have published wonderful additional remembrances of his life. Andy Grove blessed our industry by being a living example of engineering excellence and legit leadership.

—E.K.

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