Friday, June 24, 2016

Harvard University initiates ALD patent infringement suits towards US chip makers

Harvard University initiates patent infringement suits to protect inventors’ rights in atomic layer deposition alkyl amide precursor used for High-k applications like DRAM and other high aspect ratio capacitor based technologies. 

Harvard has now filed patent-infringement suits against two major US chip makers, Micron and Globalfoundries. The University believes that these companies have violated patents that claim inventions created in Gordon’s lab of famous ALD Prof. Roy Gordon.
The article in The Harvard Gazette reports:
Over a few years, Gordon, his graduate students Jill Becker [Founder of Cambridge Nanotech] and Dennis Hausmann [Lam Research], and postdoctoral fellow Seigi Suh [DuPont] would play central roles in making that high-k dielectric insulator work. Their primary innovation, filed at the U.S. Patent Office in 2000 and described in scientific papers in 2001 and 2002, was to create a novel carrier molecule, one never before seen outside of Gordon’s lab, as well as to identify a class of precursor molecules ideally suited to use in a method called atomic layer deposition (ALD) to create thin films. This precursor molecule delivered the insulator where it had to go. Once there it released the metal atoms to form a uniform layer, while its other components — such as carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen — were easily removed, leaving behind the pure insulator layer.

Isaac T. Kohlberg, Harvard’s senior associate provost, said it’s important that Harvard protect the intellectual property rights of faculty, postdoctoral researchers, students, and the University itself, particularly in an era when corporations increasingly look to academia for significant advances in science, engineering, and technology.

Here you can read the whole intriguing story from Gordon Lab in the Harvard Gazette : Defending breakthrough research. Here is also one of the well cited publications form 2002 on using TEMAHf and TEMAZr and water in deep trench DRAM stuctures (from Infineon) by Hausman et al :

There are many angles to this story and it will be interesting to follow this case.