Research and our Partners
At ASM, innovation is in our genes. From the very foundation of our company right up to the present day, we’ve been an innovation leader. Pioneering many of the process technologies that are in use today and others that will become part of mainstream manufacturing in the future.
But no one company can solve all the challenges on the semiconductor industry’s technology roadmap on its own. That’s why we have always developed strong partnerships with our customers and research institutes and academia. The best ideas can come from anywhere and it is only by having open partnerships with the top semiconductor manufacturers and leading research institutes that great minds have the opportunity to think and act together.
HOW DO WE DO IT?
The short answer is by research. When we talk about research it’s tempting to picture a single scientist making a breakthrough, but simply relying on individual brilliance is never enough. The advanced nature of our research and the complexity of the science involved means that only teams can make the swift progress that our customers need. We build innovation into the whole fabric of our organization at every level. Innovation isn’t just something we do; it’s something we are.
OUR TECHNOLOGY ROADMAP
We maintain a comprehensive technology roadmap that takes the expected needs of our customers over the next five to seven years into account and use that to matches that to our research activities to these needs. Our approach delivers results. Bringing processes like high-k and metal gate, low-k, strained Si, and many others from R&D to manufacturing at advanced customer sites.
We don’t believe in innovation for innovation’s sake. All our efforts are focused on delivering precise solutions that can solve critical problems our our customers face in a timely manner. This means that our research and product development functions are very closely integrated, despite being decentralized geographically.
We conduct research into basic materials and processes followed by process integration testing and then product development. This is how we sum it up:
- R&D discovers new materials & processes;
- The solutions are integrated in test devices;
- Working solutions are productized for volume manufacturing.
As a global company, we benefit from having the best of both worlds. We have the advantage of R&D taking place not at one central site but on different continents around the world. So we enjoy a rich variety of different approaches to solving the key issues on our customer’s roadmaps. But we also have the ability to bring together the best minds from around the globe to focus on solving a specific issue.
To enhance our research efforts, we partner with the best research organizations in the world. To help our own R&D with early stage screening and discovery, we also cooperate with advanced universities and research institutes.
To tap into the best minds available, we also work with development consortia such as the Interuniversity MicroElectronics Center (IMEC) in Leuven, Belgium and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), part of the State University of New York, in New York state, US for next generation wafer sizes (450mm).
EARLY ENGAGEMENT WITH CUSTOMERS
In addition to our links with research institutes, we also maintain very close ties with our customers. We cooperate closely in joint research and development projects. This begins with sharing our technology roadmap and continues as we bring new technologies and processes into volume manufacturing at our customers’ sites. Along the way, we integrate our R&D teams with our customers’ R&D teams to ensure a smooth transition from research into manufacturing. The process can involve close cooperation over several years for a specific technology.
This approach ensures that our process equipment performs exactly as our customers require it to, in order to meet their precise manufacturing needs.
We also participate in publicly funded programs, mainly in Europe. For example in projects awarded under the Information Society Technologies (IST) seventh framework partnership, European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council (ENIAC) or the Eureka initiative by CATRENE (Cluster for Application and Technology Research in Europe on Nano-Electronics). Their aim is usually to develop production technology for semiconductor devices with line widths of 10 nanometers (nm) and smaller. They are also aimed at developing “More than Moore” (MtM) technologies. These include new ways of using core technologies from the semiconductor industry for other chips such as LED’s, power devices, and Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).
We have had a strategic R&D partnership with IMEC (Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre) since 1990. IMEC has a worldwide reputation as a leading research institute in microelectronics. Its core technology partners include almost all of the top semiconductor manufacturers in the world. In addition, IMEC’s research areas cover many parts of the industry’s roadmap.
In December 2003, we began a partnership with the University of Helsinki that aims at the further development of ALD processes and chemistries.