The division manufactures niche products such as dielectrics, underlayers, yield enhancers, CMP slurries and pattern enhancers, as well as conventional products consisting of IC photoresist (light-sensitive material), thick film resists, edge bead removers and other ancillary products. This division also includes photolithographic printing chemicals for printing plates, which are used in the printing industry.
Growth drivers in IC Materials
The growth in demand for semiconductors is the primary growth driver for IC Materials. Semiconductor production is expected to continue to grow over the next few years at historically healthy rates, as the demand for consumer electronic devices accelerates. Devices such as smartphones, tablets and e-readers will all contribute to this growth, but we will also see growth in other areas such as automotive, medical and industrial applications.
Semiconductors are mostly based on silicon wafers. The number of wafer starts is therefore a useful indicator of demand for the advanced chemicals that are used in producing semiconductors. However, the demand for advanced chemicals should exceed wafer starts, as semiconductor manufacturers continue the process of miniaturisation, increased functionality and greater processing power which is required for each new generation of devices.
Further miniaturisation, in line with Moore’s Law, will require further advancements in specialty chemicals. Semiconductors are created in patterned layers, which ultimately form a complete integrated circuit. As the number of layers on a semiconductor rises, so can the demand for the latest advanced chemicals. Products such as anti-reflective coatings to improve pattern uniformity and fidelity, specialty rinses to reduce pattern collapse and defects, and chemical shrink materials for controlled reduction of feature sizes, are essential for enabling die size reductions and enhancing manufacturing yields.
One new material innovation is negative-tone development (“NTD”), in which the light-sensitive material used to create patterns on the semiconductor (known as the photoresist) is exposed to light and the organic solvent used for development removes the unexposed material, effectively reversing the imaging. This provides finer resolution capabilities and process window performance. The use of NTD in manufacturing is aided by new anti-collapse rinse agents to gain the process window improvements needed to deliver cost-of-ownership benefits. Chemical shrink materials are also finding use in NTD flows to further push resolution, enabling even finer feature patterning with installed lithographic tool sets.
With smaller and smaller patterns needed, new patterning techniques such as extreme ultra-violet (“EUV”) lithography and directed self-assembly (“DSA”) are likely to be required. EUV will require the use of new coating and protection materials, while DSA – which may offer a very significant reduction in cost-of-ownership compared with EUV – requires entirely new materials which are being pioneered by EMD Performance Materials.
Memory chips continue to advance. Smaller feature sizes are being developed allowing higher capacity in a smaller space, as well as lower energy use. 3D NAND (a type of flash memory) is being developed for the future, where memory cells will be stacked on top of each other. New chemical materials products and processes will be needed for these memory chips, again driving demand for companies such as EMD Performance Materials.