The more things change, the more they stay the same.
No, we're not talking about our favorite Bon Jovi lyrics. We're talking about semiconductor manufacturing.
The technology industry changes almost in front of our eyes. The raw materials we're using, however, haven't really changed much over the last couple of decades. Basically, our palette is the Periodic Table of Elements and it's our job to make beautiful combinations to help drive the industry forward.
Thankfully, we have some pretty amazing R&D employees who love to get creative.
Our love for advanced materials and our very own Dr. Tony Flaim's expertise was on full display at this year's SEMI – Strategic Materials Conference (SMC), where he talked about advanced materials and their role in disrupting the industry.
What does advanced materials mean?
Semiconductor fabrication involves the deposition of many complex thin films that are formed into the transistors and electrical connections residing within the device. These thin film compositions are referred to as advanced materials. Brewer Science has developed many new advanced materials for semiconductor fabrication. They range from our proprietary anti-reflective coatings to one-dimensional semiconductors such as carbon nanotube materials. As often noted today by leading device manufacturers, the advanced materials realm is where the future of our industry lives.
An unlikely disruption on the horizon
One key disruption Dr. Flaim sees in advanced materials involves thermoplastic polymers. Simply put, a thermoplastic is a “type of plastic made from polymer resins that become a homogenized liquid when heated and then harden when cooled,” according to wiseGEEK. Thermoplastics are extremely common materials for plastic toys, eyeglasses and even bulletproof vests. They can play an important role as adhesives as well.
When talking about temporary bonding in semiconductor manufacturing, it’s usually some sort of chemical compound that bonds a carrier to a thinned substrate, only to be released or stripped away by some other process. Thermoplastic adhesives have several key advantages for temporary bonding:
1. They form exceptionally strong and temperature-resistant films that can survive the harsh processing applied to the semiconductor substrate
2. They’re more versatile and can be removed after processing. Thermoplastics can also be used to fill features on the semiconductor substrate, leaving a flat surface on which a new level of features can be built. This is a potential game-changer for fabricating semiconductor packages.
Dr. Flaim presented on this very subject and much more on September 21st, 2016, at the annual Strategic Materials Conference.
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