A Review of the Critical Roadmap for Industry ESH Research
Bob Leet and Farhang Shadman
The Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) is a world class technology research consortium which for over 30 years has operated research programs in the U.S. and globally, to provide competitive advantage to members as a premiere university research management consortium delivering early research results and relevantly educated technical talent. For more than 20 years Environmental Safety and Health (ESH) has been an SRC focus area, both prior to and after the creation of an National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) dedicated to Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing, centered out of the University of Arizona.
Through collective joint efforts of the ERC and Sematech, the support of some high-level industry managers, and the discussions/decisions in the early International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductor’s (ITRS) committees, ESH was elevated to a new level of recognition and priority. In fact, ESH was included as a key area of strategic importance in all versions of ITRS documents. For the first time, ESH R&D was recognized, not just for having safe operation and meeting regulations, but as a key factor in “industry sustainability” and as a “technology driver” in development of new processes and manufacturing strategies.
This approach and recognition for ESH, particularly supported by several major chip-makers and suppliers, attracted the attention of a wide range of companies (internationally) who joined the efforts over the years. Notably, ESH has a unique advantage over some other technology areas since many aspects of it are pre-competitive, less sensitive to IP issues, and require collaboration for the benefit of all. This emphasis drove a surge of ESH R&D resulting in the development of new technology processes. Joint ERC, Sematech and industrial member projects led to new ideas for replacement of global warming gases, new high-k and low-k dielectrics, methods for recycling of water, and improvement in the efficiency of CMP and deposition processes. Many of these technology ideas and methods have been implemented. For many years, such