True collaboration between material suppliers, OEMs and semiconductor manufacturers is necessary to develop solutions needed to maintain the pace of innovation in the global semiconductor industry.
That was the message from Ed Shober, Vice President of Advanced Materials and Delivery Systems for Air Products, who recently spoke at SEMICON Korea’s Executive Forum.
For years, materials have played a critical role in the scaling of IC devices. Looking ahead, as device geometries continue to shrink, materials will play an increasingly more critical role in semiconductor manufacturer’s success. The move to 3-D structures such as FinFETS and Vertical NAND have created additional material processing steps that require chemical mechanical planarisation (CMP), etching and atomic layer deposition to coat and fill structures.
“This increasing need for new materials is taxing all of us along the development supply chain,” said Shober. “New materials are needed, they must be integrated and the result must not impact cost per wafer, not increase capital cost, not impact yield but must enable high throughput.”
Materials suppliers have generally assumed the lion’s share of the development costs of new materials. These include discovery, applications testing, scaling to manufacture, packaging and analytical, safe and reliable shipping and support at the customer’s site. All without the promise of a market and with the risk of materials being quickly commoditised.
“We as material suppliers, because of the importance materials are playing in scaling, have reached a critical fork in the road,” said Shober. “We can continue down the road we know which will most likely not result in a suitable return on investment or we can choose the road that many have spoken about yet not many have chosen—strategic partnerships. True collaboration can address the problems at hand and develop solutions which enable everyone to share in the success.”
Device scaling has enabled affordability and far-reaching technologies that has improved countless lives. To continue to make these improvements possible, the pace of innovation must be maintained.
“This requires genuine and close collaboration with a shared vision, so all members of the team know what is required, when it is needed and the economics for the same,” noted Shober.