Linde Electronics, the global electronics business of The Linde Group, has strengthened its commitment to memory manufacturing with the announcement of a significant investment in a new ultra-high purity disilane plant in Upper Mount Bethel Township, Pennsylvania, USA.

The plant is owned by Voltaix, a leading manufacturer of materials for the semiconductor and photovoltaic industries. Linde has partnered with Voltaix to facilitate the production of next-generation NAND flash memory chips, which requires high volumes of disilane (Si2H6).

The increasing functionality and improving performance of devices such as smartphones and tablets generates a demand for larger NAND and Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) memory capacity. The fabrication of these advanced memory chips involves ever-smaller critical dimensions, which leads to challenges in the deposition of ultra-thin amorphous or polycrystalline silicon films. Several new materials are being adopted by the industry to ensure good continuity and smoothness in these films.

One such material is disilane, which offers a substantial process improvement over traditionally used monosilane in the deposition of high-quality silicon films of thickness less than 5nm, including the further advantage of allowing lower deposition temperatures.

Linde’s investment in disilane and the Voltaix facility, which has an annual capacity of 40 tonnes, will enable a major US memory manufacturer to ramp production of advanced NAND flash and DRAM chips to meet fast growing industry demand.

“Our partnership with Voltaix will facilitate innovation in the fabrication of next generation memory devices. Thanks to the large capacity of the plant in Portland, we’re in an ideal position to meet current and future demand from the world’s NAND flash memory chip manufacturers for ultra-high purity disilane, reinforcing our position as a leading specialist gas supplier for the electronics industry,” affirmed Holger Kirchner, Head of Electronic Materials, at Linde.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Peter Smith, Voltaix Chief Executive Officer, stated, “Through the help of one of our key distribution partners, Linde Electronics, Voltaix will become a leading high volume manufacturer of disilane. Disilane is a critical material for low temperature poly-silicon deposition in memory and logic device structures. Its versatility enables it to be used in existing batch furnace and single wafer tool sets with a higher deposition rate providing increased throughput versus that of silane,” added Dr Smith.

The investment in the Voltaix facility will provide Linde with significant capacity to supply disilane for the next several years and meet the anticipated sharp growth in disilane consumption as device sizes shrink below 20nm.

Dee Nguyen, Analyst, Memory & Storage at IHS, concludes: “After a year of setbacks in 2012 due to oversupply and weak global demand, the NAND Flash market is expected to rebound in 2013, reaching revenues of $23.7bn, and achieving growth of 7.2% through 2016.  In particular, the NAND flash market will benefit from the trend towards greater mobility, as consumer devices such as smartphones, tablets, and Ultrabooks, which are enabled by NAND flash memory, become increasingly popular.”