This week, at Future Summits 2022, imec, a world-leading research and innovation center in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, announces that its Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies and Systems (SSTS) research program succeeded in bringing together stakeholders of the semiconductor value chain, from large system companies such as Apple and Microsoft, to suppliers, including ASM, ASML, KURITA, SCREEN and Tokyo Electron. The program was set up last year as part of imec’s sustainability efforts to support the semiconductor industry reducing its carbon footprint. The addition of these new partners enables a holistic approach, which leverages imec’s expertise and knowledge to cut the industry’s environmental impact.
The semiconductor industry is booming with a never-seen demand. As an integral part of our smart portable devices, IoT systems and compute infrastructure, chips are embedded in our everyday life. Semiconductor manufacturing, however, comes at a price. It requires large amounts of energy and water and creates hazardous waste. To tackle this problem, the entire supply chain needs to commit, and an ecosystem approach will be key. While system and fabless companies are already investing in decarbonizing their supply chain and products, committing to be carbon neutral by 2030 or 2040, they typically lack accurate insight into the contribution of chip manufacturing of future technologies as there is limited life cycle analysis data available.
With its SSTS program, imec calls upon the whole semiconductor value chain to join forces to cut back on the semiconductor industry’s environmental footprint. It combines imec’s strong partner ecosystem, insights in processing technology, infrastructure, and machinery to provide partners across the semiconductor value chain insight in the environmental impact of certain choices made at the chip technology’s definition and production phase. Apple was the first public partner to join hands with imec on the SSTS program last year. Now additional major system companies like Microsoft have joined the program.
The program assesses the environmental impact of new technologies, identifies high-impact problems and defines greener semiconductor manufacturing solutions. “Today there is a data gap concerning the environmental footprint of the fabrication of semiconductor integrated circuits (IC) for more advanced technologies. That’s why we’re assessing the environmental impact in a first step so we can make informed choices when we move to the next technology generations. Equipment, material and tool suppliers are key in the early phase plans; they can for example create more environmentally friendly processes and tools to solve high-impact problems in these future technologies. We are also talking to foundries to help verify and benchmark the results. By engaging with the entire semiconductor value chain in this way, our SSTS program can maximize its impact,” states Lars-Åke Ragnarsson, Program Director SSTS.
Imec (imec-int.com) is a world-leading research and innovation center in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. Imec leverages its state-of-the-art R&D infrastructure and its team of more than 5,000 employees and top researchers, for R&D in advanced semiconductor and system scaling, silicon photonics, artificial intelligence, beyond 5G communications and sensing technologies, and in application domains such as health and life sciences, mobility, industry 4.0, agrofood, smart cities, sustainable energy, education, … Imec unites world-industry leaders across the semiconductor value chain, Flanders-based and international tech, pharma, medical and ICT companies, start-ups, and academia and knowledge centers. Imec is headquartered in Leuven (Belgium), and has research sites across Belgium, in the Netherlands and the USA, and offices in China, India, Taiwan and Japan. In 2021, imec's revenue (P&L) totaled 732 million euro.
Imec is a registered trademark for the activities of imec International (IMEC International, a legal entity set up under Belgian law as a “stichting van openbaar nut”), imec Belgium (IMEC vzw supported by the Flemish Government), imec the Netherlands (Stichting IMEC Nederland), imec Taiwan (IMEC Taiwan Co.), imec China (IMEC Microelectronics (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.), imec India (IMEC India Private Limited), imec San Francisco (IMEC Inc.) and imec Florida (IMEC USA Nanoelectronics Design Center Inc.).