The Greening of Semiconductors
There is an increasing demand for and focus on sustainable manufacturing that will contribute to a greening of semiconductors. This greening must be robust and responsive to change and cannot constrain the individual processes or operation of a fab.
Fabs are being driven to choose materials by the needs to:
- Create ever-higher-performance devices to stay competitive
- Reduce the material costs in a device
- Realize process efficiencies and achieve zero negative process interaction throughput
What can be achieved by the greening of semiconductor materials?
- Lower facilities use of electricity, water, and abatement chemicals
- Lower emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere, waste water, and solid waste streams
- Lower overall volume of solid and liquid wastes
- Lower consumption of materials, especially those that are costly, finite, or associated with harmful extraction
All of the above lead to reduced costs at scale.
How are these benefits achieved?
These benefits are achieved through investments in:
- Material supply and packaging
- Tool, pump, abatement, and waste stream design
- Recovery technology
Often the economic benefits require upfront CAPEX investment by suppliers and end users to achieve later OPEX cost savings. Boundary conditions can determine who bears the cost and who realizes the benefits.
How can materials suppliers contribute to the greening of semiconductors?
Materials suppliers can do the following to reduce the environmental footprint of fabs:
- Limit emissions and waste over a product’s lifecycle, to include material production, delivery, and return/reclamation/disposal.
- Where possible within material selection constraints, make direct, process-compatible substitutions that have less environmental impact. An example of this is using F2 (fluorine) rather than NF3 (nitrogen trifluoride) as a cleaning gas in plasma CVD chambers.
- Package and process for efficient use. Often, headspaces are exhausted and heels are unused to prevent light and heavy contaminants. Better purification, quality control, packaging, and material property knowledge can reduce the amount of material lost to safeguarding quality.
- Recover material from waste streams of such gases as He (helium), Ar (argon), Xe (xenon), and H2SO4 (sulphuric acid). Reference Linde article “Sustainability through Materials Recovery” at http://semimd.com/materials-matters/2014/07/21/sustainability-through-materials-recover/.
- Consider the trade-offs of production location of global vs. regional vs. local vs. on-site that includes a yields matrix of benefits and costs for emissions, material cost, and supply chain stability.
What can equipment suppliers and end users do to contribute to the greening of semiconductors?
- Design equipment and processes for efficient use and easier recovery
- Design pumps, abatement, and facilities to enable better abatement, lower dilution of waste, and the ability to isolate waste streams from specific recipe steps
- Budget for material recovery in new fab construction
- Develop strategies for recycling of valuable and toxic materials from finished products
This blog post was contributed by Paul Stockman, Commercialization Manager, Linde Electronics.
For more information, contact Francesca Brava: email@example.com.