2013: Advanced chemistry moves center stage

By Dr. Ravi Kanjolia, Chief Technology Officer, SAFC Hitech

We are in an age where chemistry is center stage in the race to advance Moore’s Law and More Than Moore. The continued drive towards smaller feature sizes, increased performance, and lower power consumption requires highly complex architectures using new materials and advanced process technologies. This is primarily true for processes in which physical vapor deposition (PVD) is being displaced by atomic layer deposition (ALD) and chemical vapor deposition (CVD). For example, materials are being developed to form high purity functional layers for applications in logic, memory, and interconnect areas, all within given thermal budgets. In many cases, the CVD process for extremely high-performance applications requires alternative chemistries to fabricate metal and dielectric layers at lower temperatures. All of this begins with the development of base chemistries for high-purity precursors and the R&D support to progress these materials to commercial maturity.  Additionally, the importance of further optimizing cost-of-ownership (COO) and efficiencies of high-purity materials used in semiconductor and LED manufacturing cannot be understated. In low-margin, high-volume product lines you compete on operational efficiency, not necessarily on innovation. This will require close collaboration between materials manufacturers, equipment suppliers, OEMS, IDMs, and foundries; the complexity of the products requires the entire value chain to work together.

While there is some industry-wide sentiment about lackluster CAPEX in 2013, we are positive about growth in the materials market segment. There has already been a noticeable increase in utilization rates across semiconductor manufacturing lines, as ever smaller feature sizes required for advanced CMOS and beyond CMOS technologies fall more on the shoulders of materials providers than equipment manufacturers. Therefore, demand for advanced chemistries is expected to increase even beyond that observed in 2012, and we expect much of that growth to come from Korea and the Chinese-speaking world.

Looking ahead to 2013 and beyond, the future is bright for the semiconductor materials market.  Roadmaps for advanced chemistries that will address the needs of next generation semiconductor manufacturing should reflect that.

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