Monday, April 15, 2024

Ahead of the 50 Years of ALD celebration in Helsinki, learn about the origins, growth and future of the AVS ALD Conference with Greg Parsons and Steve George

The AVS ALD Conference is the main event for those in Atomic Layer Deposition. The 3-day meeting rotates between the US, Europe and Asia, chock full of interesting parallel sessions, an industry exhibition, and a few sponsored extracurricular activities. In August, the ALD conference will return for the first time in 20 years to Helsinki, Finland, the technologys place of origin. 2024 marks 50 years since Tuomo Suntolas original patent application for ALD, and this year we will celebrate the meteoric rise of the atomic scale process. In this exclusive interview from The ALDepartment, Tyler sits down with two of the founding members of the AVS ALD Conference, Professor Greg Parsons from North Carolina State University, and his PhD advisor at the University of Colorado Boulder, Professor Steven George, to talk about the origins, growth and future of the meeting. Greg and Steve discuss the challenges surrounding the conception of the conference, an unexpected letter from a major ALD company, the enormous success of the 1st conference and how they believe the meeting may change in the future. 


In this Interview: 
00:00 Intro 
01:43 How the conference started 
10:00 An unexpected letter from ASM 
12:16 The first AVS ALD conference 
22:37 Growth and direction 
33:12 Future of AVS ALD
42:16 Reflections and favorite conferences




A New Zr Precursor Enhances Wafer-Scale Zirconium Dioxide Films

A new class of Zirconium (Zr) precursor, featuring boratabenzene ligand, has been developed by a team led by Mohd Zahid Ansari at Yeungnam University, enabling the production of highly conformal ZrO2 thin films via Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD). This innovation, detailed in a recent study published in Science Advances, uses tris(dimethylamido)dimethylamidoboratabenzene zirconium and oxygen as reactants to achieve amorphous ZrO2 films at temperatures ranging from 150–350 °C on SiO2/Si substrates.


The new approach decouples the conventional ALD process, enhancing the deposition temperature window and achieving a growth per cycle of 0.87 Å, which surpasses previous methods using different Zr precursors. The films exhibit extreme conformality with complete step coverage, even on substrates with complex topographies, marking a significant advancement in semiconductor fabrication.

This development not only streamlines the manufacturing process by using O2 as a mild oxidant but also promotes safer and more efficient production methods. The films transition into nanocrystalline cubic ZrO2 upon annealing at 850 °C, enhancing their properties for potential use in high-temperature applications and as coatings for optical filters. The research team's breakthrough paves the way for next-generation semiconductor devices with improved performance and reliability.

The use of ZrO2 in DRAM helps in addressing several challenges associated with the miniaturization of memory devices. As device dimensions continue to shrink, traditional silicon dioxide (SiO2) used in older generations of DRAM becomes less effective due to increased leakage currents and decreased reliability. ZrO2, with its higher dielectric constant, allows for greater data storage capacity and improved efficiency without compromising the device's size or power requirements.

Source: New class of Zr precursor containing boratabenzene ligand enabling highly conformal wafer-scale zirconium dioxide thin films through atomic layer deposition - ScienceDirect

SK hynix to Lead in Advanced DRAM Production, Overtaking Samsung with Earlier Start

Korean SK hynix is set to initiate mass production of its advanced 6th generation 10nm class DRAM (node 1c) in the third quarter of this year, ahead of its competitor Samsung Electronics. The move positions SK hynix to potentially lead in the DDR5 server memory market, which is needed for data centers operated by major tech companies. SK hynix has outlined a strategic internal roadmap that includes achieving necessary customer certifications in anticipation of a surge in demand, especially following compatibility approval with Intel's server platforms. This certification is crucial as Intel holds a dominant share in the global server CPU market. 

The DDR5 DRAM from SK hynix is designed to be compatible with Intel CPUs, a significant advantage given Intel’s extensive market presence. Meanwhile, Samsung plans to start its mass production of similar DRAM by the end of the year, having shared its development roadmap at the recent MemCon 2024 conference. Both companies are using leading-edge Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography in their processes, which enhances chip yield and power efficiency over previous generations.


SK hynix's new M16 DRAM plant in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province / Courtesy of SK hynix

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Hanwha to supply ALD Equipment for Molybdenum Deposition for Memory Applications

According to Korean media, Hanwha Precision Machinery is developing a new type of thermal atomic layer deposition (ALD) equipment for depositing molybdenum, which is emerging as a superior material for metal gates in next-generation semiconductors due to its lower resistivity and lack of fluoride residue. The new technology, still in the prototype stage and expected to take three years to commercialize, uses molybdenum dichloride dioxide (MoO2Cl2) as a precursor. This initiative marks Hanwha's expansion into the semiconductor fabrication equipment market, collaborating with industry giants like SK Hynix on future projects, including the development of hybrid bonding equipment for high bandwidth memory production.

At two recent conferences, EFDS ALD For Industry and CMC 2024 this week in Phoenix, Air Liquide presented HVM ready solution for MoO2Cl2 sub fab delivery. They also confirmed that it is already in HVM. Other sources claim that Mo is also in HVM for DRAM. However, no reverse engineering is publicly available as of to day.


Air Liquide presenting HVM ready sub fab solution for MoO2Cl2 precursor delivery at EFDS ALD for Industry in Dresden, Germany.

Hanwha developing thermal ALD equipment for deposition of molybdenum - THE ELEC, Korea Electronics Industry Media (thelec.net)

Apple Partners with Taiwanese Largan to Advance iPhone Camera Plastic Lenses Using ALD Technology - Updated

Apple has been replacing the glass lenses in future iPhone cameras with advanced plastic lenses that have successfully passed customer testing. Two years prior, Apple's supplier Largan invested heavily in ALD (Atomic Layer Deposition) deposition machines specifically for this purpose, costing over $13.9 million each. This investment paid off with significant business from the coating of lenses for the iPhone 15 series, which introduced a periscope lens in its Pro model—a first for iPhones.

Looking ahead, there's anticipation that these new plastic lenses might feature in the iPhone 16 or 17. Largan's chairman, Lin Enping, confirmed the successful testing of a new plastic film, though it remains uncertain if it will be ready for the next iPhone release. This transition to plastic could potentially enhance camera durability, particularly by reducing lens flare and protecting the lenses from damage in case of a fall.


Speculation abounds that Apple might be the customer Lin referred to, although he did not specify. Market analysts highlight that a move to plastic lenses would not only signify a significant technological shift but also align with Apple's ongoing innovation in camera technology.


Update: Apple has used plastic lenses up to and including the iPhone 15 line-up – with one exception. The tetraprism lens used in the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a glass-plastic hybrid known as 1G3P – that is, one glass element, three plastic. This is a compromise designed to bring some of the quality gain from a glass element, without the disadvantages of an all-glass design. Many of the elements in a lens are there purely to correct for various types of distortion. Using at least one glass element eliminates some of those distortions, allowing for fewer elements. Apple's Glass And Plastic Hybrid Lens In The iPhone 15 Pro Max Will Spark A Trend For The Competition To Follow (wccftech.com)

Largan Precision Co., Ltd., based in Taiwan, is a leading manufacturer of optical lens modules, primarily for smartphones and cameras. Renowned for supplying high-quality camera lenses for Apple's iPhone, Largan specializes in high-end lens modules. The company has invested heavily in advanced technologies such as atomic layer deposition (ALD) to enhance lens durability and image quality. Largan's significant production capacity and commitment to innovation make it a key player in the optics industry, pivotal in advancing smartphone camera technology. This role is critical for meeting the high demands of major smartphone manufacturers like Apple.

Source: Apple Seeks to replace Glass Lenses in Future iPhone Cameras with next-gen Plastic Lenses that have already passed customer testing - Patently Apple

Kokusai Electric Showcased Batch ALD Technology for 40-28nm Nodes at SEMICON China 2024

At SEMICON China 2024, Kokusai Electric Corporation emphasized its strengths in atomic layer deposition (ALD) technology. The company showcased its batch-type ALD systems, which are particularly adept at achieving high-quality, uniform film deposition on multiple wafers simultaneously. This technology ensures excellent film thickness control and good step coverage, crucial for advanced semiconductor manufacturing. As the Chinese market increasingly transitions from chemical vapor deposition (CVD) to ALD due to its precision, Kokusai is poised to meet this rising demand, especially in fields like 3D stacking and miniaturization.


Kokusai highlighted its ALD technology specifically for mature semiconductor technology nodes in the 40 to 28nm range at SEMICON China 2024. This focus addresses the growing demand for precise film quality in these specific nodes within the Chinese market.


Rémi Maillat's Watch Brand Launches €145,500 Titanium Timepiece with Nature-Inspired, ALD-Coated Green Dial

The watchmaker founded by Rémi Maillat in 2017 reveals its deep connection with nature with a bold monochromatic titanium timepiece. The spiral dial motif is covered in a shade of green, inspired by both the glowing aurora borealis and the green meadows of spring. The striking colour was achieved using the ALD (Atomic Layer Deposition) coating method, in which the craftsmen deposited extremely thin layers of copper oxide, which interacted with light to create this distinctive hue. Priced at €145,500, it is a testament to craftsmanship and innovation in the world of horology.



KRAYON PRESENTS 
« ANYWHERE AURORA » 
THE FIRST TITANIUM WATCH BY KRAYON

A new colour, Green. Like the reflection with our intimate relationship with nature. A Limited Edition of only 25

Lovers of green rejoice. It's a green that evokes the powerful phenomena of nature. The skies that become fluorescent with the hypnotic northern lights. But also, the first days of spring with the rebirth of fertile soil. It can also be the green that evokes fresh grass after rain, lush meadows, forests, valleys, and that need for wide-open spaces that inspires us to embark on adventure. It’s a colour that heralds a feeling of renewal, of optimism and a new, organic energy directly linked with our natural universe – surprising yet self-evident, as if it had always been part of Krayon’s spirit since its foundation only six years ago.

The brand founded by Rémi Maillat in 2017 has a profound connection to nature. This connection is manifest in its hallmark complication: a personal and intimate ephemeris. Until now, this theme has consistently been presented in various shades of blue, often drawing inspiration from reflections on water surfaces. Today, for the first time, KRAYON boldly explores a new palette and combines it with a new, lighter, more modern metal: Grade 5 titanium.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Applied Materials Pioneer® CVD film for EUV Sculpta and DRAM Sym3 Etch applications

Applied Materials continues to lead in semiconductor technology with its introduction of the Producer® XP Pioneer® CVD patterning film at the SPIE Advanced Lithography + Patterning conference. This latest innovation is critical for DRAM scaling and EUV lithography, offering improved etch selectivity and pattern fidelity due to enhanced film density and stiffness. Optimized for use with the Sculpta® pattern-shaping system, Pioneer allows for advanced patterning capabilities, crucial for maintaining precise feature dimensions. With its adoption by leading foundry-logic and memory manufacturers, the Pioneer system is set to significantly enhance Applied Materials' portfolio and revenue, affirming its leadership in CVD technologies.

Applied Materials' Draco™ hard mask and Sym3® Y HT etch system have revolutionized DRAM production by enabling the etching of perfectly cylindrical capacitor holes, significantly enhancing etch selectivity and improving critical dimension uniformity, which contributes to a notable increase in the company's market share in DRAM.



Demand for DRAM innovation continues to grow to feed the insatiable need for memory bandwidth in the AI era. The recently launched Pioneer CVD patterning film has already been adopted by leading memory manufacturers for DRAM patterning. Pioneer is a completely new CVD architecture based on a unique high-density carbon formula that is more resilient to etch chemistries used in the most advanced process nodes, permitting thinner film stacks with superior sidewall feature uniformity.

A thinner hard mask means less vertical distance is required for etch, resulting in a lower aspect ratio. This allows use of lower-power plasma and offers better control of the ratio of ions to radicals. A higher concentration of ions produces more efficient etches with better control, allowing desired patterns to be transferred to the wafer with exceptional fidelity. Pioneer is also being co-optimized with Applied’s new Sym3® Y Magnum® etch system to provide better control over conventional carbon films for critical etch applications in memory processing.



For EUV Lithography the Pioneer CVD patterning film developed by Applied Materials addresses the stringent demands of EUV lithography by increasing film density and stiffness, which enhances etch selectivity and allows for finer pattern control, vital for the ultra-fine dimensions required in advanced chip manufacturing.


Friday, April 5, 2024

AlixLabs announces EU-wide APS Trademark and nearing commercialization on 300-millimeter wafer equipment

The European Intellectual Property Office grants Swedish semiconductor startup registration of the phrase APS (ALE Pitch Splitting).

Lund, Sweden – April 5th, 2024, AlixLabs AB, a Swedish semiconductor startup specializing in Atomic Layer Etching, announces that it has been granted a certification of registration for its trademark APS by the European Union Intellectual Property Office. The acronym APS stands for Atomic Layer Etching (ALE) Pitch Splitting and describes the company’s revolutionary process that aims to enable the semiconductor industry produce chips of the future at Ångström scale (1Å = 0.1 nanometer) at lower cost and energy use.



Jonas Sundqvist, CEO of AlixLabs (top) and Thomas Engstedt CEO of Nanovac and Dmitry Suyatin CTO of AlixLabs (Bottom).

“As we are nearing commercialization of our technology on 300-millimeter (12-inch) silicon wafers, it feels great to finally have a unique trademark to our unique semiconductor manufacturing process,” comments Jonas Sundqvist, CEO of AlixLabs. “We have been etching transistor fins since 2019, and within the upcoming quarters we will have fully validated the APS process on 300-millimeter wafers with new equipment developed by our fellow countrymen at Nanovac.”

Having previously demonstrated APS on bulk silicon, AlixLabs aims to install the new Nanovac-developed equipment in the summer of 2024. Once up and running, the goal is to finalize a commercial APS process that can be licensed to leading-edge semiconductor manufacturers to enable cheaper, more energy-efficient and sustainable production of advanced chips.

“This 300-millimeter wafer tool combines our deep industry knowledge with practical design innovations, aiming to offer improved precision and efficiency in semiconductor manufacturing,” says Thomas Engstedt, founder and CEO at Nanovac. “It’s a disruptive step forward for Atomic Layer Etching and APS processing, setting a solid foundation for future advancements by employing modular design concepts.”

APS is the first trademark of AlixLabs, joining the company’s growing portfolio of patents related to the APS process that includes one EU, two U.S., and two Taiwanese patents.

About AlixLabs

Established in 2019 in Lund, Sweden, AlixLabs emerged as a spin-off from Lund University with a mission to enable the cost-effective and energy-conscious fabrication of semiconductors, particularly logic and memory components. AlixLabs boasts patented recognition for its groundbreaking APS technique, a process that achieves nanostructure division through etching. This method holds approved patents across the USA, Taiwan, and Europe. The APS acronym signifies ALE Pitch Splitting, leveraging ALE (Atomic Layer Etching), a plasma-based dry etching cyclic methodology. For more details, please visit www.alixlabs.com

Friday, March 22, 2024

Surfs are going to be up at the PRiME Symposium G01 on ALD & ALE Applications 20, in Honolulu | Oct. 6-12, 2024

Every four years, the PRiME Joint International Meeting is held under the auspices of the Electrochemical Society (ECS), joint with its sister Societies of Japan and Korea. This fall, PRIME 2024 will be held on Oct. 6-11, 2024 in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is expected to gather over 4000 participants and 40 exhibitors from both academia and industry.


The conference has a strong focus on emerging technology and applications in both solid-state science & technology and electrochemistry.

General information and the Meeting Program can be found here: CALL FOR PAPERS.

The organizers of symposium G01 on “Atomic Layer Deposition & Etching Applications, 20” encourage you to submit your abstract(s) on topics, comprising but not limited to:

1. Semiconductor CMOS applications: development and integration of ALD high-k oxides and metal electrodes with conventional and high-mobility channel materials;
2. Volatile and non-volatile memory applications: extendibility, Flash, MIM, MIS, RF capacitors, etc.;
3. Interconnects and contacts: integration of ALD films with Cu and low-k materials;
4. Fundamentals of ALD processing: reaction mechanisms, in-situ measurement, modeling, theory;
5. New precursors and delivery systems;
6. Optical, photonic and quantum applications; applications aiming at Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence
7. Coating of nanoporous materials by ALD;
8. Molecular Layer Deposition (MLD) and hybrid ALD/MLD;
9. ALD for energy conversion applications such as fuel cells, photovoltaics, etc.;
10. ALD for energy storage applications;
11. Productivity enhancement, scale-up and commercialization of ALD equipment and processes for rigid and flexible substrates, including roll-to-roll deposition;
12. Area-selective ALD;
13. Atomic Layer Etching (‘reverse ALD’) and related topics aiming at self-limited etching, such as atomic layer cleaning, etc.

FYI: Last year in Gothenburg, our symposium G01 on ALD & ALE Applications 19 attracted a record number of 78 presentations, composing a full 4-day schedule of 66 oral (of which 18 invited), plus 12 poster presentations.

We will traditionally attract more attendants from Far East and expect to be as successful this fall in Hawaii.

Abstract submission

Meeting abstracts should be submitted not later than the deadline of April 12, 2024 via the ECS website: Submission Instructions

Invited speakers

List of confirmed invited speakers (from North America, Asia and Europe):

1. Bart Macco, TU Eindhoven, Netherlands, Review of ALD for solar cells
2. Maarit Karppinen, Aalto University, Finland, ALD/MLD for energy / membrane technology
3. Chad Brick, Gelest, USA, Silanes and silazanes precursors for Area Specific Deposition
4. Makoto Sekine, Nagoya Univ., Japan, Low damage ALE of AlGaN
5. Rong Chen, HUST Univ. Wuhan, China, ALD for Cataysis and other applications
6. Mikhael Bechelany, IEM, Montpellier, France, Recent Advancements and Emerging Applications in ALD on High-Porosity Materials
7. Miika Mattinen, Univ Helsinki, Finland, ALD of dichalcogenides for electrocatalysis
8. Bonggeun Shong, Hongik University, Korea, Theory of area-selective ALD
9. Miin-Jang Chen, National Taiwan Univ., Inhibitor-free Area-Selective ALD
10. Hyungjun Kim, Yonsei University, Korea, ALD of “Group 16 Compounds” for Emerging Applications (2D TMDCs)
11. Agnieszka Kurek, Oxford Instruments, United Kingdom, Faster ALD for Emerging Quantum Applications
12. Matthew Metz, Inte, USA, Keynote on "Materials Challenges in Future Semiconductor Devices"
13. Junling Lu, University of Science and Technology of China, ALD for Catalysis
14. Sung Gap Im, KAIST, Korea, Vapor-phase Deposited Functional Polymer Films for Electronic Device Applications
15. Jason Croy, Argonne National Lab, USA, Next-gen batteries & ALD
16. Mark Saly, Applied Materials, USA, Key Challenges in Area Selective Deposition: from R&D Scale to High Volume Manufacturing

Visa and travel

For more information, see: VISA AND TRAVEL INFORMATION

In addition, Mrs. Francesca Spagnuolo at the ECS (Francesca.Spagnuolo@electrochem.org) can provide you with an official participation letter issued by the Electrochemical Society.

For (limited) general travel grant questions, please contact travelgrant@electrochem.org.

We are looking forward to meeting you all at our symposium G01 on ALD & ALE Applications 20, in Honolulu | Oct. 6-12, 2024 !

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Laser Slicing Technique Revolutionizes GaN Substrate Recycling, Paving the Way for Cost-Effective Vertical Power MOSFETs

A study led by Takashi Ishida and colleagues explored a recycling process for gallium nitride (GaN) substrates using a laser slicing technique, aiming to reduce the cost of GaN vertical power MOSFETs. GaN is noted for its potential in high-power applications due to its superior electrical properties compared to silicon. The cost of GaN devices, while expected to be lower than silicon carbide (SiC) devices, is significantly impacted by the expensive GaN substrates. The proposed recycling process involves the use of laser slicing to separate used GaN substrates into thin device chips and a remaining substrate portion, which can then be smoothed, polished, and reused for further device fabrication.


The research demonstrated that the electrical properties of devices fabricated on recycled GaN substrates, specifically lateral MOSFETs and vertical PN diodes, showed no degradation compared to those on new substrates. This indicates that the recycling process does not adversely affect the substrate's quality or the performance of subsequent devices. The study's findings suggest that this recycling method could be a viable strategy to lower the production costs of GaN-based power devices, potentially facilitating their broader adoption in high-power applications.


Source: Demonstration of recycling process for GaN substrates using laser slicing technique towards cost reduction of GaN vertical power MOSFETs - IOPscience

Tokyo Electron ALD of AlN Thin Films Report Unprecedented Uniformity on Large Batch 200 mm Tool

In the rapidly evolving world of semiconductor technology, achieving high uniformity in thin films is important for enhancing production yield and device performance. In a study led by Partha Mukhopadhyay and his team at Tokzo Electron has made significant strides in this domain, using ALD of aluminum nitride (AlN) thin films on a 200 mm large batch furnace platform. AlN is particularly relevant for gallium nitride (GaN)-based power industry, where AlN's wide bandgap, high dielectric constant, and superior thermal conductivity make it an ideal choice for various applications, including UV LEDs, transistors, and micro-electromechanical systems.


The study's focus lies in its ability to maintain extraordinary uniformity across large batches of 200 mm wafers, achieving a thickness variation of less than 0.5 Å. This level of uniformity was obtained by optimizing the ALD process in a reactor capable of handling over 100 wafers, marking a significant achievement in high-volume production environments. The research examined the effects of deposition temperatures, film thicknesses, and different substrate types, including Si, quartz, and GaN/Si(111), on the material and optical properties of the AlN films.


One of the key findings was the identification of an optimal narrow temperature window between 300°C and 350°C for the deposition process, with 350°C being the sweet spot. The study also delved into the nuanced challenges of nucleation on different substrates, revealing that substrate-inhibited growth and a non-linear deposition rate are pivotal factors to consider. This understanding is crucial for maintaining uniformity in extremely thin films, which are sensitive to the underlying substrate's crystal orientation.

From a compositional standpoint, the development showcased the high purity of the AlN films, with negligible carbon and oxygen contamination. This purity is essential for the semiconductor industry, particularly for applications where chemical stability is critical. The study's rigorous material analysis, which included techniques like XPS and TEM, provided in-depth insights into the AlN films' structural and compositional integrity.

Optically, the AlN films demonstrated a bandgap of 5.8 eV, a key attribute for their use in optoelectronic applications. The research also highlighted the refractive index's dependence on film thickness and deposition temperature, offering valuable data for the design and optimization of optical devices.

In summary, this study represents a significant progress in ALD of AlN thin films, combining high throughput with exceptional film uniformity and quality. 

Source: Nucleation of highly uniform AlN thin films by high volume batch ALD on 200 mm platform | Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A | AIP Publishing

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Aalto University in Finland Wins Major Grant for Eco-Friendly Semiconductor Technology

Aalto University, in close collaboration with key industry players including Applied Materials in Finland (Picosun), PiBond, and Volatec, has been awarded a significant grant by Business Finland for their groundbreaking project titled “New chemistries for resource-efficient semiconductor manufacturing”. This initiative is a part of the larger "Chip Zero" Ecosystem, spearheaded by Picosun, aiming to revolutionize the semiconductor industry by developing chips that boast zero lifetime emissions—a first in Finland's tech landscape.

Led by Professors Maarit Karppinen and Antti Karttunen from Aalto's Department of Chemistry and Materials Science, the project seeks to address the pressing environmental concerns associated with semiconductor manufacturing. With the industry's carbon footprint and resource consumption at an all-time high, this co-innovation venture promises to pave the way for more sustainable production methods.



Dr. Ramin Ghiyasi working in the CHEMI-SEMI project holding a silicon wafer after atomic layer deposition, Department of Chemistry and Material Science

The project's goals are ambitious yet crucial. By innovating new chemical processes and materials, the team aims to minimize the environmental impact of semiconductor fabrication. This includes the development of novel, eco-friendly precursors and solvents, enhancing material purification, and advancing recycling practices, as highlighted by Dr. Marja Tiitta from Volatec.

Dr. Thomas Gädda of PiBond emphasizes the importance of collaborative efforts in achieving these sustainability targets, underscoring the project's reliance on a synergy of expertise from academia and industry. This collaborative framework is expected to yield advancements in chemical usage, process optimization, and energy efficiency in semiconductor manufacturing.

With its comprehensive approach, combining experimental research with computational modeling, the project aspires not only to innovate within the confines of semiconductor technology but also to set a new standard for environmentally conscious manufacturing practices in the industry.

Source: Significant Grant for Greener Semiconductor Technology from Business Finland | Aalto University

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

ASM International: Spearheading Semiconductor Innovation in ALD, Epitaxy, and CVD Markets

ASM International N.V. (Euronext Amsterdam: ASM) yesterday reported its fourth quarter 2023 operating results (unaudited). Double-digit full-year revenue growth, outperforming softer WFE market in 2023

“2023 was another successful year for ASM. Sales increased by 13% at constant currencies, despite softening market conditions, and marking the seventh consecutive year of double-digit growth.” said Benjamin Loh, CEO of ASM. “Revenue in Q4 2023 amounted to €633 million, in line with our guidance of €600-640 million and down compared to the level in Q4 2022. Revenue in the quarter was supported by strong sales in the power/analog/ wafer segment. Bookings at €678 million were slightly better than our expectation and were driven by GAA pilot- line orders and continued strength in China demand.

ASM's Leadership in the Growing ALD Market

According to ASM, the single wafer Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) market is experiencing significant growth, with projections indicating an increase from $2.6 billion in 2022 to a range of $4.2 billion to $5.0 billion by 2027. This growth, characterized by a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10-14% from 2022 to 2027, underscores the expanding role of ALD technology in semiconductor manufacturing. ASM International, a key player in the semiconductor industry, holds a dominant position in this market, commanding a share of over 55% throughout the forecast period.

Please note that this market assessment, most probably originally from TechInsights (prev. VLSI Research) does not include Large Batch furnace ALD, which historically have been about 30% of the total 300 mm ALD equipment market. The leaders in this segment are Tokyo Electron followed by Kokusai and ASM chose not to compete with its A412 ALD product line.

Driving Forces Behind ALD Market Expansion

The expansion of the ALD market is propelled by a series of technological advancements and increasing demands within the semiconductor sector. Key factors contributing to this growth include the industry's shift towards Gate-All-Around (GAA) technology, the necessity for advanced high-k gate dielectrics, and the precision required for threshold voltage tuning. Additionally, the development of sacrificial layers and the use of high aspect ratio Through-Silicon Vias (TSVs) are critical in advancing semiconductor manufacturing techniques. The application of metals and the adoption of selective ALD processes further accentuate the importance of ALD technology in modern semiconductor fabrication.


ASM's Strategic Positioning and Market Opportunities

ASM is well-positioned to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the burgeoning ALD market. The company's strategic emphasis on innovation, coupled with its comprehensive product portfolio, positions ASM as a frontrunner in meeting the evolving needs of the logic/foundry and memory segments of the semiconductor industry. The transition to advanced manufacturing technologies, such as GAA and high-k metal gate applications, presents significant growth avenues for ALD, with ASM at the forefront of this technological evolution.

To be more specific, the transition to GAA technology and the expansion in FinFET applications are set to significantly increase ASM's served available market by approximately US$400 million for every 100,000 wafer starts per month (WSPM). According to ASM, the equipment orders started to come in in the 2nd half of 2023. We can assume that this are orders from Samsung, TSMC and Intel. It is however about peculiar since Samsung had 3 nm GAA going already with yield in August 2023 and ASM is describing it as GAA pilot lines. Anyhow, come 2028 when all leading foundries including Rapidus in Japan are up and running GAAFETs, this additional market will be + USD 1.5 B as compared to if it would have been "only" FinFET technology - according to my back of the envelope calculations. For a company like ASM, with just below USD 3 B (2.6 B EUR) annual Revenue 2023 this is a huge thing. If this is not enough to go woah - add to that the GAAFET market is an upwards moving target and will continue to grow and looking ahead stacking of NMOS/PMOS will drive further demand for this type of ALD and Epi processes.

Expansion into the Epitaxy and CVD Markets

The Silicon Epitaxy (Si epi) market is also on a growth trajectory, with forecasts suggesting it will reach between $2.3 billion and $2.9 billion by 2027. ASM aims for a market share target of over 30%, focusing on both leading-edge and non-leading-edge segments. The leading-edge growth is driven by transitions to GAA technology and advancements in high-performance DRAM, while the non-leading-edge growth is buoyed by wafer power analog and strong momentum from ASM's Intrepid ESA. The epitaxy market is expected to see a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 3-8% from 2022 to 2027, with the leading-edge segment outpacing the overall market with a CAGR of 10-15%.

Regarding the SiC market, the investor presentation highlighted significant growth in power/analog/wafer revenue, almost doubling, primarily driven by robust demand in China. This growth was positively impacted by the consolidation of LPE (SiC Epitaxy), with sales comfortably exceeding the target of more than €130 million in 2023. This indicates ASM's strong performance in the SiC market and its successful integration and expansion in SiC epitaxy, aligning with the broader industry trend towards more advanced and efficient semiconductor materials.

Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) technology is another area of focus for ASM, particularly in the context of transitioning to new materials like Molybdenum, which is replacing traditional materials such as CVD Tungsten and PVD Copper in interconnect applications. This shift is indicative of the evolving needs within the semiconductor manufacturing process and highlights ASM's adaptability to changing market dynamics.

In summary, ASM's strategic initiatives in ALD, Epitaxy, and CVD technologies underscore the company's commitment to innovation and leadership within the semiconductor equipment market. Through a combination of market foresight, technological prowess, and strategic investments, ASM is well-positioned to capitalize on the growth opportunities presented by the evolving semiconductor landscape. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Applied Materials Unveils Cutting-Edge Patterning Technologies for Next-Gen Semiconductor Device Manufacturing

Applied Materials is leading the charge into the angstrom era of chipmaking, unveiling a suite of innovative solutions at the SPIE Advanced Lithography + Patterning conference. The company's focus is on overcoming the challenges posed by extreme ultraviolet (EUV) and high-NA EUV lithography, crucial for the production of chips at 2nm process nodes and below. Their approach integrates new materials engineering, metrology techniques, and pattern-shaping technology to enhance chip performance and yield.


To help overcome patterning challenges for leading-edge chips, Applied Materials offers a portfolio of technologies designed to complement the latest advances in lithography. The company’s newest innovations include the Producer® XP Pioneer® CVD patterning film, the Sym3® Y Magnum™ etch system, the Centura® Sculpta® pattern-shaping system and Aselta contour technology for design-based metrology.

Central to Applied Materials' advancements is the Sculpta® pattern-shaping technology, first introduced at the previous year's conference. Sculpta has seen growing adoption among top logic chipmakers for its ability to refine EUV patterning, notably reducing double patterning steps and mitigating defects such as bridge defects. This technology not only lowers patterning costs but also improves chip yields, showcasing its increasing importance in the semiconductor manufacturing landscape.


Over the next few years, chipmakers will be looking to create “angstrom era” chips that will use EUV and High-NA EUV lithography to pattern their smallest features. An entire ecosystem of capabilities will be required to enable this advanced patterning – including software and design tools, innovations in deposition and etch, advanced metrology and inspection systems, and entirely new approaches such as pattern shaping.

In response to the issue of EUV line edge roughness, Applied Materials has launched the Sym3® Y Magnum™ etch system. This innovative system employs a combination of deposition and etch processes within a single chamber to smooth out rough edges before etching, thereby enhancing yield and chip performance.

Additionally, the company introduced the Producer® XP Pioneer® CVD patterning film, designed for high-fidelity pattern transfer with enhanced resistance to etch chemistries. This film is especially significant for advanced process nodes, offering improved sidewall feature uniformity and co-optimization with both Sculpta and the Sym3 Y Magnum system for superior patterning capabilities.

To address the critical issue of feature alignment across chip layers, Applied Materials has acquired Aselta Nanographics, integrating its design-based metrology with Applied's leading eBeam systems. This integration enables a comprehensive metrology solution that significantly enhances feature placement accuracy, crucial for optimizing chip performance and yield.

Applied Materials' expansion of its patterning solutions portfolio underscores its commitment to advancing semiconductor technology. By addressing key challenges in EUV lithography and introducing groundbreaking technologies, the company is setting new standards for the industry, driving forward the capabilities of angstrom era chipmaking.

Source: Applied Materials Expands Patterning Solutions Portfolio for Angstrom Era Chipmaking | Applied Materials

DOE Invests $4M in Argonne's ALD Tech to Develop Energy-Efficient Semiconductor Devices

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Argonne National Laboratory a $4 million grant to pioneer research in microchip energy efficiency using Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD). This innovative project, part of the DOE's Energy Efficient Scaling for Two Decades (EES2) initiative, aims to harness the potential of 2D materials, specifically molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), to create microchips that could consume up to 50 times less energy than current models. 


Led by Argonne's Distinguished Fellow Jeffrey Elam, the research team will collaborate with Stanford, Northwestern, and Boise State Universities to develop ALD techniques for fabricating atomically precise MoS2 films. This breakthrough could lead to microchips with integrated memory and logic functions, significantly reducing energy waste and addressing the critical "von Neumann bottleneck" in computing. The project is a step forward in the global effort to enhance computational efficiency and sustainability.

Monday, February 26, 2024

PRiME 2024: A Global Convergence on Atomic Layer Processing Set for Honolulu This October

The PRiME Joint International Meeting, organized by the Electrochemical Society and sister societies from Japan and Korea, will take place from October 6-11, 2024, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Anticipating over 4000 participants, the conference will focus on solid-state science, technology, and electrochemistry. Symposium G01 invites submissions on Atomic Layer Deposition and Etching, covering topics from semiconductor applications to energy storage. The deadline for abstract submission is April 12, 2024. Last year's event saw 78 presentations, indicating a strong interest in the field. For visa, travel information, and participation letters, contact ECS representatives.



Every four years, the PRiME Joint International Meeting is held under the auspices of the Electrochemical Society (ECS), joint with its sister Societies of Japan and Korea.

This fall, PRIME 2024 will be held on Oct. 6-11, 2024 in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is expected to gather over 4000 participants and 40 exhibitors from both academia and industry.

The conference has a strong focus on emerging technology and applications in both solid-state science & technology and electrochemistry.

General information and the Meeting Program can be found here: CALL FOR PAPERS.

The organizers of symposium G01 on “Atomic Layer Deposition & Etching Applications, 20” encourage you to submit your abstract(s) on topics, comprising but not limited to:

1. Semiconductor CMOS applications: development and integration of ALD high-k oxides and metal electrodes with conventional and high-mobility channel materials;

2. Volatile and non-volatile memory applications: extendibility, Flash, MIM, MIS, RF capacitors, etc.;

3. Interconnects and contacts: integration of ALD films with Cu and low-k materials;

4. Fundamentals of ALD processing: reaction mechanisms, in-situ measurement, modeling, theory;

5. New precursors and delivery systems;

6. Optical, photonic and quantum applications; applications aiming at Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence

7. Coating of nanoporous materials by ALD;

8. Molecular Layer Deposition (MLD) and hybrid ALD/MLD;

9. ALD for energy conversion applications such as fuel cells, photovoltaics, etc.;

10. ALD for energy storage applications;

11. Productivity enhancement, scale-up and commercialization of ALD equipment and processes for rigid and flexible substrates, including roll-to-roll deposition;

12. Area-selective ALD;

13. Atomic Layer Etching (‘reverse ALD’) and related topics aiming at self-limited etching, such as atomic layer cleaning, etc.

FYI: Last year in Gothenburg, our symposium G01 on ALD & ALE Applications 19 attracted a record number of 78 presentations, composing a full 4-day schedule of 66 oral (of which 18 invited), plus 12 poster presentations.

We will traditionally attract more attendants from Far East and expect to be as successful this fall in Hawaii.

Abstract submission

Meeting abstracts should be submitted not later than the deadline of April 12, 2024 via the ECS website: Submission Instructions

Invited speakers

A list of confirmed invited speakers (from North America, Asia and Europe) will soon be available.

Visa and travel

For more information, see: VISA AND TRAVEL INFORMATION

In addition, Mrs. Francesca Spagnuolo at the ECS (Francesca.Spagnuolo@electrochem.org) can provide you with an official participation letter issued by the Electrochemical Society.

For (limited) general travel grant questions, please contact travelgrant@electrochem.org.

We are looking forward to meeting you all at our symposium G01 on ALD & ALE Applications 20, in Honolulu | Oct. 6-12, 2024 !

Symposium organizers:

F. Roozeboom, (lead), University of Twente; e-mail: f.roozeboom@utwente.nl,
S. De Gendt, IMEC & Catholic University Leuven,
J. Dendooven, Ghent University,
J. W. Elam, Argonne National Laboratory,
O. van der Straten, IBM Research,
A. Illiberi, ASM Europe,
G. Sundaram, Veeco,
R. Chen, Huazhong University of Science and Technology,
O. Leonte, Berkeley Polymer Technology,
T. Lill, Clarycon Nanotechnology Research,
M. Young, University of Missouri,
A. Kozen, University of Vermont.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

After decline of -13%, TECHCET reports consecutive YoY double-digit growth

San Diego, CA, February 16, 2024: TECHCET — the advisory firm providing materials market & supply chain information for the semiconductor industry — is anticipating a strong rebound in the semiconductor memory market segment for 2024, which will lead the total semiconductor industry into an upturn. This comes after a decline in total semiconductor revenues to US$572 billion in 2023, a -13% change compared to 2022. Significant revenue growth is expected in 2024 of 12%, followed by even stronger growth in 2025 of 21%. Moderated growth is anticipated in 2026 as the market enters a downcycle later that year.


By 2029, the market is set to eclipse the US$900 billion point, but the elusive US$1 trillion echelon is not predicted by TECHCET to be reached until 2031 or 2032.

While the cyclicity of the semiconductor market is evident in this forecast, overall revenue trends for materials markets are more moderate and often do not exhibit the same swings in ASP’s or revenues as semiconductor device revenues. TECHCET will provide an overview of the current materials market outlooks with respective insights at their upcoming Advisory Alert Webinar, on April 21st, available to member subscribers and special guests.

To get more market and supply chain information on TECHCET’s forecasts and Critical Materials Reports™, go to:

Don’t miss the 2024 CMC Conference in Chandler, AZ on April 10-11. For more info and to register, visit https://cmcfabs.org/2024-cmc-conference/

ABOUT TECHCET: TECHCET CA LLC is an advisory services firm expert in market and supply-chain analysis of electronic materials for the semiconductor, display, solar/PV, and LED industries. TECHCET offers consulting, subscription service, and reports, including the Critical Materials Council (CMC) of semiconductor fabricators and Data Subscription Service (DSS). For additional information, please email us here, call +1-480-332-8336, or go to www.techcet.com.

SIA Feb. 22 for a webinar on the 2023 semiconductor market and 2024 outlook

SIA Feb. 22 for a webinar on the 2023 semiconductor market and 2024 outlook. Insights from Dan Hutcheson, Dale Ford, Lita Shon-Roy, and Christopher Danely. Discover trends and future projections. Don't miss out!

A Review of the 2023 Semiconductor Market and a Look to 2024


Join us Thursday, Feb. 22 at 2 pm ET for the complimentary SIA Webinar—A Review of the 2023 Semiconductor Market and a Look to 2024.

Semiconductor sales declined by 8.2% in 2023, confirming projections that the industry would experience negative growth. Despite the decrease in annual revenue, the second half of the year saw consistent month-over-month sales growth, signaling the beginning of the new semiconductor business cycle. In addition, the increase in the latter half of the year was driven by sales in end-markets—such as AI, automotive, and industrial—that are expected to propel the industry to $1 trillion by 2030.

Please join a panel of semiconductor market experts to discuss 2023 sales trends and an outlook of the market in 2024. Panelists include Dan Hutcheson, Vice Chair at TechInsights; Dale Ford, Chief Analyst at the Electronics Components Industry Association (ECIA); Lita Shon-Roy, President/CEO and Founder of TECHCET; and Christopher Danely, Managing Director, Citi. The session will be moderated by Robert Casanova, Director of Industry Statistics and Economic Policy at SIA.



We look forward to seeing you on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 2 pm for the complimentary SIA webinar!

Register for the webinar here.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Webinar - ALD of nitrides - enabling metastable nitrides by plasma ALD

Welcome to the next Applied® Picosun® research community webinar!

Time: Tuesday, 9th of April, 2024 at 13:00 CET
Length: 45 minutes

Although ALD is well known for binary oxides, it is less understood for binary nitrides. Some commonly studied nitride examples are SiNx and TiN that have been extensively investigated while GaN and AlN are less reported since ALD has not been needed for these materials. We have recently shown how plasma ALD seems to be a true enabler for InN, which is metastable both as binary and when combined to form ternaries. Apart from nitrides for optoelectronics, metastable cubic AlTiN has been used to increase the service life of cutting tools. Cubic AlTiN is routinely synthesized using physical vapor deposition techniques operating far from thermal equilibrium. Recently, it has been shown that metastable, cubic AlTiN with high Al content can be deposited close to thermodynamic equilibrium by deposition techniques working at very low pressures. However, very little is understood about the deposition chemistry in these processes, limiting process development to be supported by educated guesses rather than scientific understanding. In the research, a scientific understanding of the deposition chemistry for cubic AlTiN is formed, to facilitate the development of better, more sustainable processes for these coatings.




Speaker: Pamburayi Mpofu, Linköping University, Pedersen Group

Pamburayi Mpofu is a third-year Doctoral Candidate in Materials Chemistry and a member of the Henrik Pedersen Group in the Department of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology (IFM) at Linköping University, Sweden.

Pamburayi holds a Master’s degree in Chemistry from Linköping University. His research interests are in Inorganic Materials Chemistry with a focus on atomic layer deposition (ALD). He is currently working on understanding, on a fundamental atomic level, the surface chemistry governing the deposition of metastable ternary nitrides (in particular AlTiN) thin layers of materials by ALD, for protective hard coating applications.
"I will describe the general problems for doing ALD of nitrides and why ALD seems to be an enabler for metastable nitrides will be described. With focus on my research on AlTiN I will show how I use ALD in developing an understanding of the surface chemistry during the deposition processes. Using in-situ techniques, to study the surface chemistry while navigating the precursor chemistry to generate experimental data that we compare with modeling results to provide an atomic scale perspective of the surface chemistry."


AMEC's Revenue Grows with Advanced Etch Technology Fueling China's Semiconductor Surge

AMEC, China's etching tools giant, forecasts a 30%+ revenue jump in 2023, driven by local semiconductor demand and replacing US parts with domestic ones.

Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc. (AMEC), a leading Chinese provider of semiconductor etching tools, is set to witness a significant revenue surge exceeding 30% in 2023, buoyed by robust demand from China's burgeoning semiconductor manufacturing sector. AMEC's strategic focus on core technological innovations has enabled the deployment of an array of sophisticated chip-making equipment to domestic fabs, catering to the critical process of etching in semiconductor production. AMEC's revenue for 2023 is projected to hit 6.26 billion yuan ($879 million), marking a 32.1% increase from the previous year, underpinned by a substantial 8.36 billion yuan in new orders. This growth trajectory is further evidenced by an impressive net profit forecast ranging between 1.7 billion yuan and 1.85 billion yuan, showcasing year-on-year growth of 45% to 58%. Central to AMEC's success is its adeptness in navigating the challenges posed by tightened US semiconductor sanctions. 



The company has embarked on an ambitious strategy to diminish reliance on foreign components, with a commitment to replacing 80% of US-restricted components with locally sourced parts by the end of last year, aiming for a complete transition by 2024. AMEC's product lineup, particularly its core etching tools like the capacitively coupled plasma (CCP) and inductive coupled plasma (ICP) systems, is pivotal to its revenue stream, anticipated to constitute 75% of its total earnings for the year. These etching tools, essential for the intricate process of sculpting microscopic circuits onto semiconductor wafers, have gained substantial traction among Chinese foundries. This is a testament to AMEC's technological prowess and its role in bolstering China's self-sufficiency in semiconductor manufacturing. 

The company's market share in domestic CCP equipment is expected to soar to 60%, a significant leap from 24% in October 2022. Similarly, AMEC's foothold in the ICP equipment market is projected to reach an impressive 75%, marking a dramatic rise from virtually zero. This growth is particularly notable against the backdrop of declining mainland sales of once-dominant US chip equipment manufacturers like Lam Research. AMEC's technological offerings, characterized by advanced etching capabilities and innovation-driven development, cater primarily to China's semiconductor fabs. These fabs are integral components of the nation's strategic push towards self-reliance in semiconductor production, a sector that has become a focal point of international geopolitical tensions and trade restrictions. As such, AMEC not only stands as a technological leader but also as a key enabler of China's ambitions in the global semiconductor arena.

Scalable Electronic-Grade Van der Waals Tellurium Thin Films

Scalable Electronic-Grade Van der Waals Tellurium Thin Films: A study demonstrated a scalable ALD route for creating electronic-grade van der Waals tellurium (Te) thin films. By employing acid-base precursors and co-reactants, the research team successfully produced dense, continuous Te thin films on a wafer scale. This breakthrough is crucial for various electronic devices, promising enhancements in transistors, rectifiers, and selection elements.


Process Controlled Ruthenium on 2D Engineered V-MXene via Atomic Layer Deposition for Human Healthcare Monitoring

Engineering 2D MXene Family with Precious Metals: A novel approach has been introduced for the engineering of the 2D MXene family using precious metals through ALD techniques. This development opens new possibilities in personal healthcare devices, clean energy conversion, and storage systems by enabling the integration of precious metals like Ru, Ir, Pt, and Pd at an atomic scale, enhancing surface activity and energy performance​​.

In the study, a traveling-wave type thermal Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) reactor (Lucida D-100, NCD Technology, Korea) was utilized to deposit ruthenium films on SiO2/Si wafers and delaminated V2CTx MXene. The ruthenium metal-organic precursor used was tricarbonyl(trimethylenemethane)ruthenium, [Ru(TMM)(CO)3], provided by TANAKA Precious Metals (Japan). Oxygen (O2) served as the reactant gas in the deposition process. The ALD process involved a sequence of precursor pulsing, nitrogen purging, reactant gas pulsing, and another nitrogen purging to ensure self-limiting growth and uniform film deposition.



A schematic of atomic layer deposition process and step coverage of ALD-Ru film. Credit: Advanced Science (2023). DOI: 10.1002/advs.202206355

The key highlights and potential applications of this research include:

Enhanced Temperature Sensing Performance: The delaminated V-MXene engineered with ruthenium via ALD shows a threefold increase in temperature sensing performance compared to V-MXene alone. This improvement is attributed to the highly ordered few-layer structure of V-MXene and the controlled atomic doping of ruthenium, forming a heterostructure that enhances sensing and reversibility.

Advanced Material Characterization: The study uses high-resolution electron microscopy techniques coupled with next-generation technology for detailed investigation of the heterostructure's formation, providing insights into the role of ruthenium in improving the sensor's performance.

Potential for Healthcare Applications: The sensor's high sensitivity and reliability in temperature detection make it suitable for various healthcare applications, including real-time skin temperature monitoring, non-contact touch, and breathing rate detection. This could be particularly useful for personal healthcare devices, offering a non-invasive way to monitor vital signs and detect potential health issues early.

Human-Machine Interface: The sensor's ability to detect temperature changes accurately and reliably can be applied in human-machine interfaces, such as wearable devices or smart textiles, enhancing user interaction through temperature-sensitive controls or feedback mechanisms.

Scalability and Environmental Consideration: The use of an industrially scalable ALD technique for sensor development, combined with a mild etching process for V-MXene synthesis, points towards the potential for large-scale production with reduced environmental impact.

Versatility and Multifunctionality: The combination of V-MXene's large surface area, hydrophilicity, and the electronic properties of ruthenium suggests that beyond temperature sensing, this material system could be explored for other applications like humidity sensing, energy storage, and conversion, indicating a broad scope for future research and development.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Tyler J. Myers Launches The ALDepartment YouTube Channel to Explore and Expand the World of Atomic Layer Deposition

Tyler J. Myers has launched a new initiative called The ALDepartment, following his departure from the ALD Stories podcast. This project aims to delve deeper into the field of Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) by creating a platform that encompasses a wide array of ALD-related topics. The ALDepartment, hosted on YouTube, is set to feature educational content, interviews with influential figures in the ALD community, commentary on recent developments within the field, and even some entertainment-focused videos.




Myers' first video on the channel serves as an introduction, outlining his motivations for starting this venture and what viewers can expect from future content.