At ASM, innovation is in our genes. From the very foundation of our company right up to the present day, we’ve always been ahead of what's next. Pioneering many of the process technologies in use today and others that will become part of mainstream manufacturing in the future.
What keeps us sharp
No one company can solve all the challenges on the semiconductor industry’s technology roadmap. That’s why we have always developed strong partnerships with our customers, 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.
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 match our research activities to those needs. Our approach delivers results.
We’ve been a leader in bringing processes like ALD high-k metal gate, PECVD low-k, Epi strained Si, PEALD spacer defined multi-patterning and many others from R&D to manufacturing at advanced customer sites.
Our global culture
As a global company with R&D centers in seven countries, 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. Our research and product development functions are very closely integrated, despite being geographically decentralized.
Our research partnerships
To enhance our research efforts, we partner with the best research organizations in the world. To help our R&D with early-stage screening and discovery, we also cooperate with advanced universities and research institutes.
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. Also, in December 2003, we began a partnership with the University of Helsinki that aims at the further development of ALD processes and chemistries.
Our Research & Development
A key goal of our customers is to build faster, cheaper, and increasingly more powerful semiconductors for each new technology node. We work with them closely to make this happen, forging mutually beneficial partnerships to help develop next-generation technologies.
Through our intensive R&D programs and customer co-development, we continuously improve and extend the capability of our products and processes to meet these advanced technology roadmaps, increase productivity, and lower operating costs per wafer. Critical to our success is close and early collaboration with leading customers and suppliers, global research institutions, such as IMEC, and key universities. This approach ensures that our process equipment performs exactly as our customers require it to in order to meet their precise manufacturing needs. The result is value creation for our customers.
To ensure quality throughout all our processes, ASM maintains a global ISO9001:2015 registration relating to the scope ‘design, sell, make, install, and customer support of front-end semiconductor processing equipment,’ which was recertified on August 1, 2022. ASM did not have any product quality recalls or related material financial impacts in the period 2019-2022.
Our R&D approach generally follows three levels
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 first level, Basic R&D, is at ASM in Helsinki, Finland. Here our team of researchers performs analysis and feasibility tests on new materials and chemistries in search of fundamental solutions.
The solutions are integrated in test devices
Next the viable candidate solutions are tested in process integration studies at one of our research partner facilities, such as IMEC in Leuven, Belgium, where full devices can be created.
Working solutions are productized for volume manufacturing
The third level takes place at one of our product development centers, where the final equipment is developed for volume manufacturing of the advanced innovation solution.
Made possible by people
New deposition technologies and chemistries continue to drive growth in our global patent portfolio. We have Intellectual Property managers at all our major global R&D sites, ready to capture all patentable material resulting from our R&D activities. As of year-end 2022, we had around 2,600 patents in force worldwide.