At ASM, we're pioneers in the technologies used in wafer processing by semiconductor manufacturers. We have a proven track record of innovation that spans a wide range of technologies that have become standard among the top semiconductor manufacturers in the world. Using these technologies enables them to create semiconductors the size of a thumbnail, today, that are more powerful than computers the size of a small car were a few decades ago. Progress has been fast and the pace unrelenting so our ability to bring innovations from R&D into volume manufacturing is as sought after now as it was when we were founded in 1968.
INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES, RELIABLE RESULTS
At ASM, we have been leaders in wafer processing technology for nearly 50 years. From the very start of the semiconductor industry to the present day, we have helped to keep our customers delivering in line with Moore’s Law, by developing ever-more sophisticated technologies that help put more transistors on a single chip.
Moore’s Law states that the average number of transistors on an integrated circuit or chip will double every 18 to 24 months. The law is a fundamental driving force for the industry. It is built into the roadmaps – plans for future developments – of all our customers. The question is how do we keep making chips more powerful?
The simple answer is by putting more components on a single chip by making them smaller and smaller. This is where nanotechnology comes in. Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at a molecular scale. A nanometer (nm) is one billionth of a meter. It can be hard to imagine anything at such tiny scale. By comparison, the thickness of a human hair is 100,000nm, a skin cell is roughly 30,000nm and a single strand of human DNA is 2.5nm in diameter. In our R&D laboratories, we are now creating 10nm transistors. A transistor is one of the basic building blocks on a chip. The most powerful chips can contain up to several billion transistors, all electrically connected and working to enable devices like PCs, smartphones and in-car systems to function.
In order to create ever smaller components on a chip, the industry had to invent new processes. ASM has been pioneering new ways of making components since we were founded in 1968. ASM was one of the early innovators behind lithography, which helped keep the industry in line with Moore’s Law for 40 years. Since 2000, scaling down by lithography has been joined by processes that use new materials to help create smaller components. ASM’s Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) technology is one of these processes. ALD enables thin films one atom deep to be deposited on silicon wafers. ALD is now being used to help create a new method of reducing the size of components - 3D.
Our core strengths are in Vertical Furnaces, Epitaxy, Plasma-Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (PECVD) and now Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) technologies. Together, this mix of established and newer technologies addresses all of the critical areas driving the semiconductor industry roadmap today.
OUR WAFER PROCESSING PORTFOLIO
At ASM, we support a broad portfolio of wafer processing technologies. Each is used for one and often several precise applications during the processing of wafers to create chips. Here is a short introduction describing what each process is used for.
Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD)
Used to create precise deposition of extremely thin high-k dielectric and metal layers for transistor gates.
LPCVD, Diffusion and Oxidation
Used for various steps where relatively high temperature is used to anneal materials or for forming silicon oxides.
Used for forming silicon-based channel and strain layers for advanced transistors.
Plasma-Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (PECVD)
Used to deposit low-k dielectrics used in interconnect layers.
Plasma-Enhanced Atomic Layer Deposition (PEALD)
Used to deposit highly conformal dielectrics at low temperatures.