To stay competitive, companies in the multi-billion dollar semiconductor industry must conduct pre-competitive research years in advance to learn about the materials, process and chemistry required to continue shrinking circuit elements in computer chips.
A collaboration between a consortium of semiconductor companies and chip makers and the Center for X-ray Optics (CXRO) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has yielded solutions to critical questions facing the semiconductor industry such as developing extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) techniques to shrink circuit elements to the nanometer scale. Members of the consortium include IBM, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Qualcomm, Applied Materials, Freescale Semiconductor, FujiFilm, and Texas Instruments, among many other international firms.
Recently, additional tools have been introduced at LBNL that enable researchers from around the world to make new discoveries in resists, processing and masks. The SHARP microscope (SEMATECH High-NA Actinic Reticle review Project), designed and built by CXRO staff and brought online in 2013, can advance miniaturization and complexity in chip making. A new SEMATECH Berkeley Microfield Exposure Tool (MET) replacing the earlier MET will enable semiconductor industry researchers to develop the next generation of photoresist materials.