Technology-driven growth still possible in current downturn

Scott Becker, VP of Marketing, FSI International, Chaska, MN, USA

Though we find ourselves in a deep cyclical downturn made worse by chaos in international financial markets, IC manufacturers must continue to make critical investments in new and emerging technologies that will define the competitive landscape when the next upswing materializes. Technological innovation has been the lifeblood of our industry since its inception. We have grown used to surmounting insurmountable barriers with creative solutions to often unanticipated problems.

Though capacity requirements will not drive purchases as long as this downturn persists, we believe that leading manufacturers must and will continue to acquire the new technologies they will need to assure competitive advantage in the next up-cycle. Single wafer cleaning provides an excellent case in point. Gartner Dataquest recently observed that the single wafer cleaning market space has been steadily growing since 2002 and predicted that growth in the single wafer sector will continue to outpace the cleaning market as a whole. The key to success in this market will be the ability to address specific technological challenges on the critical path for advanced 32nm-22nm processes. These include the reduction of material loss during photoresist stripping after ultra shallow implants and the elimination of material loss and galvanic corrosion in high-k metal gates and copper interconnects with metal containing capping layers.


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