Innovations in mobile computing and communications will continue to be a driving factor for the semiconductor equipment industry. To enable high performance chips for new and exciting applications, our foundry/logic and memory customers that manufacture semiconductors are migrating from lithography-enabled 2D transistors and 2D NAND to materials-enabled 3D transistors and 3D NAND. These device architecture inflections require significant advances in precision materials engineering in conformal materials deposition, materials removal, and materials modification. Selective materials processes will play a more prominent role. Smaller features and atomic-level thin films also make interface engineering and process integration more critical than ever.
Some significant ongoing industry developments to highlight are the new materials and architectural changes in the transistor to reduce power consumption and drive performance gains. The increased complexity of the 3D FinFET architecture in combination with continued scaling requires great precision in structure formation, especially when forming the gate. More advanced atomic-level process technologies in selective epitaxy, metal gate, implant, anneal, etch, and planarization are needed. Also critical to meeting the industry’s precision engineering requirements are improved materials that offer more choices for increasing selectivity, control and performance. And, let’s not forget the advances underway to develop new higher mobility channel materials.
Another exciting inflection in 2014 is our memory customers’ transition from planar two-dimensional NAND to vertical three-dimensional NAND. 3D technology holds the promise of terabit-era capacity and lower costs by enabling denser device packing, the most fundamental requirement for memory. There are complex device performance and yield challenges, such as distortion-free high aspect ratio etching, staircase case patterning with precise step-width control, uniform and repeatable gate stack deposition.