Geoff Irvine, Director, Commercial Development & Marketing, SAFC Hitech, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
In 2009, materials and chemistry will continue to play an important role in semiconductor development. Given the current global economic climate, we expect to see an increased focus on cost of ownership (COO), along with greater collaboration throughout the supply chain as companies look to partner for expertise and spread both cost/risk and potential rewards.
In terms of scaling, research in this area is increasingly driven by materials development as we continue to see a wider scope of materials under consideration. As more specialty precursors are assessed as potential deposition solutions and more materials become commercially-viable options, so new structures evolve, leading to new types of integration and technology opportunities.
Materials suppliers must keep pace with a demanding business environment that calls for shorter times to high volume manufacturing (HVM). It is likely that such HVM chemicals will not only have shorter life cycles, but will be produced in smaller volumes as the number of materials in devices increases. We have witnessed such a rapid transition in dielectrics used in DRAM. This trend may expand to apply across the entire semiconductor manufacturing sector.
Collaborations are essential if the industry is to evaluate every possibility in terms of materials. With chemical suppliers, OEMs and IDMs collaborating to solve the challenges of introducing novel materials and techniques to relatively new industrial requirements, new molecules are being designed, along with the processes that ensure that they can be introduced in an acceptable economic format. COO is, therefore, not only important, but also a concern, as a number of the materials being looked at from a device physics standpoint are, in some cases, rare or precious metals. Vertical integration will become increasingly prominent as the inherent cost savings will help deliver a more attractive COO model to customers throughout the product life-cycle.