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Advanced Materials Science: The Future Of Innovation In The Data Revolution

We’re in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a period of massive transformation for our world. AI, virtual reality, augmented reality, IoT (Internet of Things) devices and the development of self-driving cars – to name a few – are fueling a data revolution. In fact, 90% of the world’s data was created in the last 2 years. This data explosionis driving the need for not only more chips but the development of more sophisticated chips, which presents tremendous opportunities for the semiconductor industry. 

 This digital transformation demands a faster and more reliable computing infrastructure that will be enabled by new device architectures (i.e. 3D NAND memory devices), new engineered materials, and a greater level of material purity to manage and utilize the information-rich data created inall applications.  While meeting these requirements is no easy feat, Entegris is uniquely positioned to help the semiconductor industry meet the precision, purity, integrity, and safety challenges presented by the need for new engineered materials.

 Specifically, the new materials, more sophisticated integration flows, and increased purity requirements needed to achieve higher-performance devices add fabrication steps and increase process complexity.  While many industries have to do more with less, the semiconductor industry must do more with more — at least when it comes to complex manufacturing processes. Every new step added to the manufacturing processes creates a potential point of failure (or more) and solving each of these challenges can be time consuming and costly. With process steps growing to more than 100, even a yield loss of 0.01% can result in significant economic impact. 

 To address the challenges of increased process complexity, the industry must continue to adopt new processes and materials to enable scaling, better contamination control, and defect reduction to improve yield. While reliability is also important, historically, cost and yield has been prioritized above all else. With the emerging IoT, there must be a better balance.

 Additionally, to be successful amidst this ever-growing complexity, the semiconductor industry will need to embrace a greater commitment to collaboration, and in particular a more concerted effort to solve problems together.  A reduction in, or even elimination of, friction points will be key to addressing the vast opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its technologies.

 In fact, the momentum driven by these applications is already having an impact on the success of the industry.  In 2017 global semiconductor industry sales topped $412 billion, an increase of 21.6 percent over 2016 sales, according to Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) research. 

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