IMEC, the independent microelectronic research center based in Leuven, Belgium, announced at its annual research review meeting on Oct. 13 that five major chipmakers have joined the center’s sub-45nm research platform.
Infineon, Intel, Philips, Samsung Electronics, and STMicroelectronics have formed “core partnerships” with IMEC that will help the research center implement its “300mm center of excellence.” IMEC’s centralized research platform will be done in collaboration with IC manufacturers and equipment manufacturers, in an effort to enable companies to collaborate during the research phase of a project, reduce individual risks and costs, and derive results more quickly than working as individual companies.
IMEC’s research program is aimed at technology generations two to three modes ahead of current state-of-the-art IC production, with a focus on advanced process module and device research. Programs include advanced lithography, cleaning and contamination control, substrate modules (including implementation of high-mobility layers and advanced source/drain engineering solutions), gate stack, alternative CMOS devices and advanced interconnects.
The toolset for the execution of these program will transition from 200mm to 300mm in IMEC’s new research facility, with equipment installation targeted for 1H04. A strategic alliance with ASML will enable IMEC to build the 300mm research platform around advanced lithography tools and processes.
The five “core partners” will receive benefits, according to IMEC, that include increased involvement in steering and executing research programs, a “favorable intellectual property ruling,” and early insight into research results. The partner program also enables the risks and costs of research to be spread among partners.
Gilbert Declerck, president and CEO of IMEC, said that IMEC is talking to other chipmakers about becoming core partners, including Japanese companies and foundries. A total of eight to ten companies is the target. “Other semiconductor manufacturers, such as Texas Instruments, support this research platform by participating in a large number of programs,” he said.
— Kevin Fitzgerald, Executive Editor