Supporting expertise: ultra-clean processing, characterization, reliability
Invent - The role of materials analysis and characterization is to better understand the design and fabrication of the building blocks of chips: the transistors and interconnects. IMEC analyzes what their chemical, physical and electrical properties are, how these properties are the result of the fabrication processes, and how they are influenced by the microscopic characteristics of the materials and their interactions. By studying the physics of these interactions and their dependence on the processing steps, IMEC wants to understand how the IC building blocks are formed, how they function, and how their fabrication processes can be optimized.
Achieve - The search for the ultimate resolution has led to the development of Scanning Spreading Resistance Microscopy (SSRM). That method gives electrical information with a resolution of 500pm. And with an atom probe, IMEC can visualize the position of Si atoms on their individual lattices planes, or the formation of B-clusters consisting of only 2-3 atoms. That requires a resolution better than 0.3nm. Last, with a transmission electron microscope, IMEC can reconstruct 3D images and analyze the thickness and continuity of dielectric layers (< 1nm) buried in a 3D structure.