The Center for Electronic Materials Processing and Integration (CEMPI) is a new research center focused on the fundamental understanding of advanced plasma processes and insulators used in manufacturing state-of-the-art semiconductor chips. CEMPI is located at The University of North Texas (UNT), a comprehensive public research university that is the largest university in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and fourth largest university in the State of Texas. CEMPI is jointly funded by UNT and the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), the world's leading university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies. Dr. Scott List, former director of Interconnect and Packaging Sciences at SRC comments, “Having all these researchers working together in the center will leverage their combined experimental and modeling expertise and help provide a much more coherent solution path to the semiconductor industry.”
The mission of CEMPI is to help ensure that semiconductor devices continue to increase in performance while growing smaller in size. Plasma processing is used throughout every stage in the manufacturing of semiconductor chips, including depositing, etching and cleaning materials. As semiconductor devices continue to shrink in size and grow in complexity, the control of these surfaces and interfaces over atomic dimensions becomes crucial to further advances. Better plasma processes will be a major step in achieving that goal.
Plasmas are gaseous media in which many of the electrons have been removed from the gas atoms to generate a high density of charged particles that are accelerated by applied voltages. The detailed understanding of the physics and chemistry involved in the plasma interactions are becoming increasingly complex and difficult to predict without a fundamental understanding of plasma interactions with electronic materials and development of state-of-the-art plasma models with experimental validation. Such understandings provide both tool manufacturers and chip makers insight into defining the optimal recipes and tool designs to fabricate faster chips.
CEMPI focuses on the growth and reliability of the new insulators used between the copper wires that enable the chips to be faster and use less power. Even issues as complex as how the detailed plasma processes can impact the insulators to change their speed and reliability are being addressed at CEMPI.