October 06, 2014 Lehigh Valley, Pa.
Material suppliers to the semiconductor industry have developed an increasingly more important role in the industry as new materials enable advancements that help manufacturers maintain pace with Moore’s Law. To be a reliable supplier to the industry going forward, materials suppliers must reduce complexity. Wayne Mitchell, Air Products (NYSE:APD) vice president and general manager of Electronics, laid out five easy (SIMPL) steps for simplifying the complexity of being a materials supplier at last week’s Strategic Materials Conference (SMC) sponsored by SEMI.
Enhancing device performance, reducing power consumption, shrinking form factors, and lowering the cost for the next generation of smart phones, tablets, PCs, and wearables are just some of the primary drivers that are challenging semiconductor manufacturers. In many instances, new materials are what will help device manufacturers achieve these goals. To succeed as a supplier to the semiconductor industry, Mitchell laid out these steps.
Supply Products that Deliver Performance and Cost-in-Use Advantages
For each new technology node, more new materials will need to be integrated, and performance and cost-in-use will determine the winners. In logic devices, there has been a 3X increase in the contribution of materials to the overall cost to manufacture a wafer driven by low-k dielectrics, high-k gate materials, copper, CMP slurries to planarize surfaces, and other materials.
Integrate the Product Supply Chain to Include Control from Starting Materials to Integration and Use
Now, more than ever, customers want to know how supply chain is managed to avoid the potential for defects in their devices. This makes it critical to integrate suppliers into the processes employed for controlling and measuring the material production process. However, this can be a challenge if a supplier serves a number of markets, and the Electronics business is not worth the investment to be a qualified supplier. Additionally, many of the new materials finding use in semiconductor manufacture lack other uses in industries that would help take advantage of economies of scale.
Measure Defects by Leveraging Best-in-Class Analytic and Metrology Capabilities
Measurement is critical to understanding how materials perform and detecting defects. However, many of the levels materials suppliers are asked to measure are rapidly shrinking below detection limits of the tools currently employed. Since semiconductor manufacture moved to sub 100nm dimensions, there has been a 5X increase in spending on diagnostic tools. Access to state-of-the-art metrology and analytic tools is expensive, especially when coupled with the investment in people to operate and maintain this equipment. Therefore, material suppliers should consider working together to support a metrology/analytics center of excellence to serve the industry.
Partner to Reduce Risks and Maximize Opportunities for Success
Realizing a reasonable return on investment for new materials is challenging when considering the investments necessary in R&D, product scale-up, and distribution, as well as competition, a desire to commoditize a new product by our customers, and the risks around determining if an offering is the best answer to a customer’s problem. One critical challenge during this time is choosing the right OEM or IDM partner that offers the best chance for success. The best partner is one that understands the need, is willing to engage with the materials supplier in a true collaborative manner, and maximizes the opportunity for the supplier of the product.
Logistics Must Enable Uninterrupted Supply of Materials
As a global industry, sourcing raw materials from around the world, building and maintaining a robust supply chain, and practices that look seamless to customers go a long way in forging a strategic relationship.
“To complete the SIMPLE acronym, and make it more memorable, you need a step that begins with the letter E, and that is Execute Flawlessly,” said Mitchell at the end of his presentation. “If you can execute each of these steps flawlessly, you are on your way to simplifying complexity and becoming a successful and reliable materials supplier to the semiconductor industry.”
Mitchell’s presentation, “Simplifying Complexity: A New Paradigm for Supplying Materials to the Semiconductor Industry,” came during the Material Manufacturers Perspective at SMC. To learn more about Air Products’ Electronic Materials business, please visit www.airproducts.com/industries/Semiconductors.aspx.
About Air Products
Air Products (NYSE:APD) provides atmospheric, process and specialty gases; performance materials; equipment; and technology. For over 70 years, the company has enabled customers to become more productive, energy efficient and sustainable. Recognized as one of the world’s most innovative companies by both Thomson Reuters and Forbes magazine, more than 21,000 employees in over 50 countries supply effective solutions to the energy, environment and emerging markets. These include semiconductor materials, refinery hydrogen, natural gas liquefaction, and advanced coatings and adhesives. In fiscal 2013, Air Products had sales of $10.2 billion. For more information, visit www.airproducts.com.
NOTE: This release may contain forward-looking statements within the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are based on management’s reasonable expectations and assumptions as of the date of this release regarding important risk factors. Actual performance and financial results may differ materially from projections and estimates expressed in the forward-looking statements because of many factors not anticipated by management, including risk factors described in the Company’s Form 10K for its fiscal year ended September 30, 2013.