AZ Electronic Materials Revamps Semiconductor Processes with New Molecular Structures from IBM Research

(Nanowerk News) AZ Electronic Materials, a leading supplier of electronic materials to the semiconductor and flat panel display industries, signed an agreement with IBM to develop alternative, next generation lithography technologies. AZ will collaborate with IBM Research-Almaden material scientists and engineers to develop a materials package based upon block copolymers for use in implementing Directed Self-Assembly (DSA) processes compatible with conventional lithography and using conventional semiconductor process equipment.
With market predictions for nanotechnology-enabled products to reach $2.41 trillion by 2015, there is a need for lower semiconductor production costs and improved device performance. This collaboration focuses on fundamental scientific research and solutions that will impact the development of industrial applications ranging from the medical sector to consumer devices like cell phones and computers. For example, the DSA technology has been identified as a potential process to meet the semiconductor industry's 16nm and 11nm half-pitch design requirements, according to the 2009 International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors.
"Collaborating with the IBM Research - Almaden team provides AZ the opportunity to apply our leading-edge underlayer technology, and material design and scale-up capabilities, to the development of alternative patterning approaches," said Geoff Wild, AZ's CEO. "IBM's pioneering work in this area gives the AZ-IBM initiative a strong technical basis for success in demonstrating DSA processes for future semiconductor manufacturing nodes."
"As the semiconductor industry looks to overcome the inherent challenges of shrinking design nodes, this has lead to rising design, process development and mask costs," said T.C. Chen, Vice President of Science and Technology, IBM Research. "Working with AZ Electronic Materials will enable us to develop the new techniques needed to create groundbreaking, innovative lithographic patterns that can keep industry-wide semiconductor development moving forward while reducing total cost of ownership of the manufacturing tools and processes."
"In the long-term, I expect the electronics industry to continue its focus on improved cost of ownership. One means to address this is to introduce bottom-up type processes which use 'smart chemicals' to extend and enhance the capabilities of semiconductor patterning equipment," said Ralph Dammel, AZ's CTO. "DSA technology is a step in that direction, and I expect that we will see many more applications for it than are being discussed now. It is AZ's intention to build on IBM's many years of experience with DSA to position ourselves as the premier supplier for such materials."
Work on the multi-year program will be conducted at AZ Electronic Materials' R&D facilities in the USA, Germany and Korea, and at IBM's Almaden Research Center in the USA.
About AZ Electronic Materials
AZ Electronic Materials ( is a leading provider of electronic materials to the flat panel displays, integrated circuits and devices, and photolithographic printing industries. The business is headquartered in Luxembourg with plants in Taiwan, Korea, China, Japan, France, Germany and the US.
Source: AZ Electronic Materials (press release)
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