Etching Technology Advances

Let’s get really, really small.That directive from leading semiconductor companies and their customers is forcing the whole semiconductor supply chain to come up with new ways to design and manufacture ever-shrinking dimensions for chips. The current push is to 10nm and 7nm, but R&D into 5nm and 3nm is already underway.

To put this in perspective, there are roughly two silicon atoms in 1nm of line width in a chip. That helps explain why industry has adopted atomic layer deposition (ALD) first, and why it is now moving to atomic layer etch (ALE).

“Etch equipment is growing faster than the total semiconductor equipment market, primarily due to the gush in multi-patterning for memory and logic devices,” says Navin Rajendra, senior industry manager for market researcher Technavio.