Materials Innovation is the Way Forward

By Dr. Randhir Thakur, Executive VP & GM, Silicon Systems Group, Applied Materials

Dr. Randhir Thakur, Executive VP & GM, Silicon Systems Group, Applied Materials

It is an exciting time for all of us living in the era of mobility and enabling it in various forms and functions. Our customers are in a war for mobility leadership and this is creating unprecedented technology inflections in semiconductors and display technology. As we look to the emerging era of greater connectivity and the Internet of Things (IoT), demand will continue to grow for higher functional performance and lower power consumption with a smaller form factor at the right cost. Each member of the value chain must collaborate with an exchange of ideas, learning and information to innovate and develop the right technologies that can help realize the new trends and applications in computing and connectivity.
This year, the semiconductor industry celebrates the 50th anniversary of Moore's Law and I am confident that its momentum will continue. Maintaining its steady progression is critical to meeting demand for advancing high-performance computing, mobility and ubiquitous connectivity. The most significant emerging trend in semiconductors is three dimensional scaling in logic, memory and packaging to help enable lower power consumption, increased processing performance and denser storage capacity in smaller form factors. The challenge however for supporting continued Moore's Law scaling as the industry approaches. 10nm nodes and 3D architectures is the multitude of complex changes required in manufacturing technologies. Precision materials engineering will play a key role in enabling disruptive technologies and novel integration schemes to address the inflections associated with advancing Moore's Law.

Keeping Pace with Moore's Law Through Materials-Enabled Scaling
In the semiconductor industry, advancing process nodes adds to complexity in manufacturing, but scaling is essential to achieve lower cost-per-transistor for logic or cost-per-bit for memory. One of the major issues impacting the scaling roadmap is the delay of an extreme ultraviolet (EUV) solution to alleviate the limitations of current lithography technology. To maintain the pace of Moore's Law, the industry has shifted much of its historical reliance from litho-enabled scaling to materials-enabled scaling. This transition creates more reliance on new materials and new device architectures, resulting in increasing need for advances in deposition, removal, materials modification and interface engineering techniques. Applied is providing disruptive solutions to drive node advancements. This increased role for precision materials engineering is the foundation to continued scaling at the right time for the right cost.

Opportunities for Industry Growth in Emerging Markets
In India, it's exciting to see the support for the semiconductor sector to help address the huge emerging demand for consumer and industrial electronics. Government initiatives like "Make in India" provide momentum for India to reduce its dependence on electronics imports. The government is expected to accelerate the execution of announced policies to move the industry forward. Building an ecosystem to foster close collaboration between industry, academia and government will greatly benefit the advancement of the semiconductor industry.

Collaboration is Key to Enable Innovation
For semiconductor business leaders, managing their technology roadmaps involves many factors both on the technical side and on the financial side. One of these issues relates to the rising cost of manufacturing more complex designs and the subsequent economic impact of reduced yields. Another issue for leaders in chip businesses is the need to consider different roadmap options to pursue, and the implementation of new materials and architectures. A third requirement is the level of industry engagement needed to support research and development efforts. In the next 5 years we are going to see more new materials and device technology changes than we have seen in the last 15 years. This amount of change and the very difficult challenges associated with such changes are going to require major collaboration across the entire value chain. At Applied Materials, being the leader in precision materials engineering, innovation has always been our top priority. To stay innovative, we have built and sustain an intellectually vibrant culture with passionate people who can bring fresh ideas and different perspectives. Our technologists are excited by the need to look years ahead at multiple device generations and to conduct early research on disruptive solutions. We have built Centers of Excellence where our top engineers can focus on strengthening fundamental capabilities for the company to address the industry's toughest challenges. It is highly important to have a robust product pipeline to continuously accelerate the pace of innovation and help enable customers' roadmaps.

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