PACE OF INNOVATION DEMANDS CLOSER COLLABORATION WITH MATERIALS PROVIDERS
Author: Joe McGonnell Company: National Starch and Chemical Date Published: 2/13/2001
Pan Pacific Symposium
Abstract: Moore's Law has many more cycles to run in the semiconductor industry. The imperative to create ever "smaller/faster/smarter/cheaper/safer" IC's will require many more evolutions and revolutions in materials science. Microelectronics companies can keep pace only through closer partnering at the design phase with materials scientists in the commercial, academic, consortium and government arenas. From the "Bronze" Age to the advent of "Silicon" Valley, materials have played a critical role in the birth of new industries and technological advances. Despite this central role, materials and materials scientists have often played the least visible role in the development of the electrical and electronics industries. But without powdered carbon (telephone), tungsten filament (light bulb), phenolic sockets (vacuum tubes), fiberglass epoxy (printed wiring boards), high-purity germanium and silicon (transistor) to name a few, there would be no microelectronic industry today. As the pace of change accelerates, the microelectronics industry faces many challenges both known -- lead-free assembly, flip-chip processing, power and heat dissipation, bluetooth engineering, etc. -- and unpredictable that will require either improved or entirely new molecules from the materials science community. Already, many of the leading semiconductor firms are seeking closer collaboration with materials suppliers, industry consortiums and/or universities worldwide to enhance the innovation process and protect competitive positions. Electronic engineers and materials scientists speak very different languages and look at problems differently, but a multidisciplinary approach is needed to push the performance limits of packaging and interconnection in the electronics industry. Microelectronics companies need the expertise of partners who specialize in characterizing materials and synthesizing new molecules. "Invented here" is rapidly taking a back seat to "invent it now" as more companies focus on their core competencies and partner with outside experts around the world for the rest of their needs. The handful of firms that learn to tap the full potential of electronic specialty materials suppliers will be the ones who survive and deliver the next generation of microelectronic miracles.