Part 2: New Materials Lead Way for Gas Industry


While Moore’s law has mostly held true for the last 30 years, using the same scaleable methodologies will not meet the needs of the industry going forward. The analogy of scalability is that of folding an A4 sheet of paper in half ten times – at the seventh fold it becomes almost impossible. Similarly, scalability cannot be relied upon to make transistors smaller and new technologies and materials are required.

This means that suppliers will need to have a more innovative and systematic approach to help get around the limitations imposed by materials and power. Critically, design for manufacturing starts at the materials level and this means sinking resources into research and development with an uncertain return on that investment.

The result – expect to see gas companies moving into materials that will work with technologies such as ALD (Atomic Layer Deposition) but also entering into alliances either jointly or with specialty chemical companies to defray R&D costs.

To add to the challenges, big changes are underway in which chips are fabricated. Forecasts currently show Asia Pacific countries (China, Korea and Taiwan) passing Japan in total Fab capacity during the first half of this decade and accounting for 40% of the world’s total wafer processing volume by 2009 with 60% of new Fab capacity being installed in that region. All of the gas companies will need to make significant investments in Asia over the next 5 years and, indeed, many of them, including Praxair and Air Products have already moved their senior staff to this region.

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