Evolving IMEC prepares a welcome in the City of Things

April 18, 2017 //By Peter Clarke
Luv Van den Hove, CEO of IMEC (Leuven, Belgium), discussed with EE News Europe the changing emphasis at the research institute as it expands to cope with the increasing complexity and breadth of electronic applications.

That changing emphasis will be in evidence at the IMEC Technology Forum, which this year has different location, Antwerp, and takes place May 16 and 17 at the Elisabeth Center with an expected audience of 2,000 people.

IMEC's remit is work on micro and nanoelectronic technologies that are somewhere between three to ten years out in terms of full commercialization. We asked Van den Hove what was leaving, and what was entering, IMEC's target zone. For example, is extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography so close to market as to be of reduced interest to IMEC?


Luc Van den Hove, CEO of IMEC

"We think EUV will enter manufacturing in the next two years but that does not mean that everything has been solved. The pellicle issue has not been completely solved; we need higher energy and we think the next stage is higher NA (numerical aperture). There are a lot of questions in EUV and it remains an important program for IMEC. We need to research the future of EUV and how to extend it to 3nm and beyond."

What is happening on the lithography front is a winding down of research into 193nm wavelength optical lithography. IMEC will continue with multi-patterning research but it will gradually shift the emphasis to EUV, said Van den Hove.

Similarly, he said, in transistor structures the move is on from FinFETs to nanowires. "Our effort goes to nanowires, both horizontal and vertical which we think will come in after the 10nm node."

Van den Hove's discussion of the 10nm, 5nm and 3nm nodes and beyond – even though node definitions have become notoriously loose and arbitrary – would seem to suggest that lateral scaling in IC manufacture is alive and well. This contrasts with the views of some who have indicated that Moore's Law is coming to an end and migrating to future nodes, while being technically possible, may become economically undesirable.

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