imec tackles data gap in sustainable semiconductor technologies

imec tackles data gap in sustainable semiconductor technologies

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Belgian research lab imec has added some key semiconductor partners to its Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies and Systems (SSTS) research programme.

The SSTS was set up last year with Apple as the lead, but has now added semiconductor suppliers including ASM, Kurita and Tokyo Electron.

The scheme is intended to reduce the carbon footprint of the semiconductor manufacturing supply chain to eliminate the impact of high energy use and toxic chemicals. 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 as there is limited life cycle analysis data available.

“Today there is a data gap concerning the environmental footprint of the fabrication of semiconductor integrated circuits (IC) for more advanced technologies,” said Lars-Åke Ragnarsson, Program Director at SSTS. “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.”

imec is in a unique position, working with the leading edge chip makers on new process technologies. The programme combines imec’s 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. 

The program assesses the environmental impact of new technologies, identifies high-impact problems and defines greener semiconductor manufacturing solutions.

Intel, which is already a partner of imec for research, has flagged the need for a global consortium to assess the supply chain of chemicals, but has not been mentioned in the SSTS partners.

“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,” said Ragnarsson. “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

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