- Technological breakthroughs combine leading etch processes with new materials science
- The three tools are innovations in high selectivity etch and surface treatment processes
Lam Research has won a prestigious Edison Award for best new products in materials science. The bronze medal was awarded for our recently launched innovative suite of selective etch products designed to accelerate chipmakers’ 3D roadmaps.
- Why it matters: The Next-Generation Manufacturing category of the Edison Awards, inspired by inventor Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931), honor excellence in new product and service development, marketing, human-centered design, and innovation. Winners are selected by a peer-related voting body, made up of top executives, academics, and innovation leaders from across the globe.
The Lam team, led by Hsiao Wei Chang, formerly VP and GM of the Surface Integrity Group, before his death in December 2022, pushed the limits of conventional etch processes to develop a next-generation etch lineup – Argos, Prevos, and Selis.
- Hsiao Wei knew to regain industry leadership, Lam couldn’t keep iterating traditional etch methods. Instead, he knew technology leadership required exploration of novel chemistry.
To get there, Hsaio Wei expanded the etch development team beyond technologists to include chemists and experts in materials science. The result used thermal and vapor processes instead of plasma for logic gate all around (GAA) transistors, a device in which a gate is placed on all four sides of the channel vs. across the top in planar transistors.
Our customers – the world’s leading semiconductor memory, logic, and specialty chipmakers – rely on breakthroughs like Lam’s selective etch products to achieve higher productivity with lower costs and improved energy efficiency.
Development of advanced semiconductor tools requires a strong ecosystem that includes partnerships with our customers. Hsaio Wei was known for his deep relationships with customers, often calling directly from customer locations to report on client reaction to early prototypes so the team could begin to iterate further.
The resulting breakthroughs led to three new products:
- Argos, provides a revolutionary surface treatment rooted in metastable active radical source (MARS). MARS creates the very gentle radical plasma needed for highly selective surface property modification in advanced logic processes.
- Prevos, featuring a proprietary chemistry catalyst that was developed specifically for applications that require extremely high selectivity.
- Selis, employing radical and thermal etch capabilities to enable ultra-high selective etching with uniform top-to-bottom process control without damaging the wafer structure.
Lam’s precision selective etch tools and surface techniques are designed to help accelerate chipmakers’ 3D logic and memory roadmaps – an evolutionary step forward for the semiconductor industry.
Trends including 5G, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things (IoT) are driving demand for faster, smaller, more powerful and energy-efficient electronics. In turn, this has created a need for new semiconductor fabrication processes that enable the production of advanced devices with fine, closely packed features and complex 3D structures.
The transition to 3D architecture in advanced memory and logic represents the next great inflection point for the semiconductor ecosystem. Shrinking the many transistors and memory cells in chips has never been easy.
Advanced logic and memory require creating new 3D structures at atomic scale. Challenges arise as a result of building complex tiny structures of various layers that must be deposited on and selectively removed from the wafer in multiple steps with atomic-level precision.
- When working with tiny dimensions, there is little room for variation.
- Precision is critical to creating the smaller, faster, more efficient chips needed for high-performance computing and digital innovation.
Included on the award-winning team are: David Lo, senior director, engineering, Selective Etch; Mark Kawaguchi, senior director, engineering, Leap reviewer, Selective Etch; Butch Berney, director, engineering, Selective Etch.
Congratulations everyone on a job well done!
- Accelerating the Path to 3D: Introducing Lam Precision Selective Etch Solutions
- Lam's Selective Etch Product Family