Etch Processes Push Toward Higher Selectivity, Cost Control


Plasma etching is perhaps the most essential process in semiconductor manufacturing, and possibly the most complex of all fab operations next to photolithography. Nearly half of all fab steps rely on a plasma, an energetic ionized gas, to do their work. Despite ever-shrinking transistor and memory cells, engineers continue to deliver reliable etch processes. “To sustainably create chips... » read more

Big Changes Ahead In Power Delivery, Materials, And Interconnects


Part one of this forecast looked at evolving transistor architectures and lithography platforms. This report examines revolutions in interconnects and packaging. When it comes to device interconnects, it’s hard to beat copper. Its low resistivity and high reliability have served the industry exceedingly well as both on-chip interconnect and wires between chips. But in logic chips, with int... » read more

How To Compare Chips


Traditional metrics for semiconductors are becoming much less meaningful in the most advanced designs. The number of transistors packed into a square centimeter only matters if they can be utilized, and performance per watt is irrelevant if sufficient power cannot be delivered to all of the transistors. The consensus across the chip industry is that the cost per transistor is rising at each ... » read more

Extending Copper Interconnects To 2nm


Transistor scaling is reaching a tipping point at 3nm, where nanosheet FETs will likely replace finFETs to meet performance, power, area, and cost (PPAC) goals. A significant architectural change is similarly being evaluated for copper interconnects at 2nm, a move that would reconfigure the way power is delivered to transistors. This approach relies on so-called buried power rails (BPRs) and... » read more

What’s Next For Transistors And Chiplets


Sri Samavedam, senior vice president of CMOS Technologies at Imec, sat down with Semiconductor Engineering to talk about finFET scaling, gate-all-around transistors, interconnects, packaging, chiplets and 3D SoCs. What follows are excerpts of that discussion. SE: The semiconductor technology roadmap is moving in several different directions. We have traditional logic scaling, but packaging i... » read more

EUV Pellicles Finally Ready


After a period of delays, EUV pellicles are emerging and becoming a requirement in high-volume production of critical chips. At the same time, the pellicle landscape for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography is changing. ASML, the sole supplier of EUV pellicles, is transferring the assembly and distribution of these products to Mitsui. Others are also developing pellicles for EUV, a next-gen... » read more

Breaking The 2nm Barrier


Chipmakers continue to make advancements with transistor technologies at the latest process nodes, but the interconnects within these structures are struggling to keep pace. The chip industry is working on several technologies to solve the interconnect bottleneck, but many of those solutions are still in R&D and may not appear for some time — possibly not until 2nm, which is expected t... » read more

More EUV Mask Gaps


Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography is at a critical juncture. After several delays and glitches, [gettech id="31045" comment="EUV"] is now targeted for 7nm and/or 5nm. But there are still a number of technologies that must come together before EUV is inserted into mass production. And if the pieces don’t fall into place, EUV could slip again. First, the EUV source must generate more ... » read more

Still Searching For Rare Earths


There is both good and bad news for buyers of rare earths. The good news: It’s a buyers’ market. Prices for rare earths remain depressed amid a glut in the marketplace. The bad news: The supplier base is shaky. China still accounts for 85% of the world’s total production of rare earths, but most Chinese suppliers are operating at a loss. And two of the main non-Chinese suppliers, M... » read more

Searching For Rare Earths Again


Rare earths are back in the spotlight again. Rare earths are chemical elements found in the Earth’s crust. They are used in cars, consumer electronics, computers, communications, clean energy and defense systems. The big market for rare earths is magnets. In semiconductor production, rare earths are used in high-k dielectrics, CMP slurries and other applications. Last year, the World Tr... » read more

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