Technology is our main accent
The answer to this, at first glance, a simple enough question, is not so obvious. Of course, we do not deal with planning across the industry, but can share our "view from below".
Speaking of my experience: I graduated from MISIS, faculty of semiconductor materials and devices in the department, which was headed by Yakov Fedotov, and our teachers were such outstanding scientists and engineers as, for example, Susanna Madoyan, German Kubetsky (Stalin prize winner in 1951). I am extremely grateful to them. They were experts of the highest qualification participated in the creation of the first Soviet transistor and largely laid the foundations of the industry.
Work in Pulsar scientific research institute has taught me a lot. Probably, it is possible to claim that the Russian microelectronics began from there. Then the industry with powerful corporations in Zelenograd, Voronezh, Leningrad has been created. In addition, there was a separate department of the Ministry of electronics industry with 32 powerful enterprises, among which were Crystal in Kiev, Planet in Novgorod, Alpha in Riga, the factories in Saransk, Orel, Novosibirsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kherson, Tomilino, etc.
Another example is HANMI Semiconductor, which was founded in 1980, by Kwak Nho-Kwon (Fig.1), a former engineer of Motorola. In March of this year, the company has announced the opening of a new clean room (Fig.2 and 3) where it is possible to assembly simultaneously up to 100 units of equipment (total capacity – 150 units), and the development of a new, sixth generation of Vision and Placement (Fig.4), which was produced since 1998 in quantities around 2000 units. Of course, it is good to have near itself such a giant as Samsung, but the secret of success is not only this. And such examples can be continued.
All know what happened in the Soviet Union in the eighties. Although, Russian companies had a lot of technological advances that could allow to find their niches in the global market, logic of history has not allowed to do that.
Now, in a sense, the Russian microelectronics regains positions: equipment and facilities are modernized, young, talented and already experienced engineers are appeared. However, it should be borne in mind that the creation of the school of specialists, infrastructure of enterprises is not easy in the conditions of extremely rapid development of the semiconductor technology and requires special attention and, most importantly, patience. In addition, the current investments in microelectronics are already not hundreds of thousands of rubles spent on R&D in the Soviet Union, it is billions of dollars. And as a result it is required to squeeze in the crowded market where nobody waits for us, that is, the risks are very high. However, the experience of Taiwan, Korea and others said that However, the experience of Taiwan, Korea and other countries shows that the case is not hopeless.
We regularly arrange the technology seminars near Munich to introduce new products and trends in technology. These seminars are visited by professionals not only from Russia but also from other, mainly former socialist countries. So, we have found that there is practically no own, national production of microelectronics there already: all producers with good schools, for example TESLA, belong to large corporations of Korea, the USA, Japan, etc. now. Domestic microelectronics is lucky in this sense, because it is still Russian.
From my point of view, the structure of the industry is gradually recovering, and the state of companies largely depends on the experience and skills of managers: there are examples of efficiently developing companies, although there is not many of them.
What technologies are most important to Russia?
When I worked at the Pulsar, we did everything ourselves: special departments prepared materials (silicon wafers, etc.), developed processes (oxidation, deposition, epitaxy, etc.), developed semiconductor devices, instrumentation, etc. Moreover, this structure was more or less repeated in the departments of the institute. Other enterprises in the industry were organized in the same way. Pulsar’s plant and institute have employed about 6 thousand people.
The already mentioned Japanese DISCO Corporation has about 4 thousand people, but is focused on only three processes: dicing, grinding, polishing. DISCO provides its customers with complete solutions that include technology, equipment, supplies, technical support. This example shows how the industre and its structure have changed, and how important is the specialization of its participants.
But not only the structure of the industry is important. Enterprise structure and methods of management are no less important. You must have a clear long-term development plan. Another important issue is determining the accents and ways of development. Economic reasonability of decisions should be determined by the prospect of its implementation, not the level of costs.
Ideally, we need to develop everything! From a practical point of view, I certainly would focus on the advanced packaging technologies – 3D TSV, FO WLP, because they allow to move forward, to create system in a package (SiP), without losing time for development of the individual components. Today, the manufacturer of microelectronic equipment, if he wants to reduce the size, weight, or improve the parameters of the system, should conduct long negotiations with the manufacturer of the circuitry. With an advanced packaging, in one form or another, a system designer can independently "compose" the system, using chips from a variety of manufacturers. In addition to the technical side of things, it is also a powerful economic factor of development.
What solutions do you offer for Russian microelectronics?
Our long-term partners are the Japanese DISCO Corporation, or rather, its European subsidiary DHE (DISCO Hi Tec Europe GmbH) located in Munich, the Korean HANMI Semiconductor (Incheon) and SPTS (Newport, UK).
I would like to tell you more about DISCO. All the company’s production is concentrated in Japan, but the network of branches enables to coordinate the work on all continents. In our case, the cooperation is conducted with the DHE, the competence of which includes the sale and support of DISCO’s products in Europe. DHE has a staff of engineers and technologists, who, besides working at the customer site, have the opportunity to practice and to execute orders in the clean room of DHE. Currently, more than 500 customers from all over the world use these services, about 10 thousand wafers are processed per month, from single individual orders to large-scale production.
Taking into account the unique nature of the company’s equipment and frequent earthquakes in Japan, according to the request of customers, DISCO maintains a large product stocks and has duplicated all productions in the new multi-storey buildings with special protection from earthquakes.
DISCO is distinguished by an exclusive focus on the needs of the customer. Attention is given to each, even very small customer. The logic is simple: with providing a unique technological solution DISCO allows customer to obtain competitive advantages. As a result, it captures more and more market segments.
There are many examples of the success of such cooperation. For example, DISCO has developed the DBG (Dicing Before Grinding) technology specifically for one company (now quite famous) at the beginning of its way. As a result, it has become one of the world leaders in their field. Now, its equipment base includes 25 DBG lines and more than 350 fully automatic dicing machines. By the way, in Russia, at present, only a few units of fully automated equipment for dicing and only one full DBG line are installed.
One more curious fact: the DISCO’s production capacities in 2017 are almost fully occupied by orders of two grown "startups".
We would like to draw the attention of the Russian enterprises in a number of DISCO’s solutions. For example, in TAIKO technology (in translation from Japanese – a drum). If you ever held a silicon wafer with a thickness of 50 µm, then you know that it bends like a sheet of paper. The essence of TAIKO is that the silicon wafer is ground only in the center and an intact edge of the original thickness (3 mm) remains on the outer most circumference. This ensures the high stiffness of the wafer after grinding even if the thickness is only 18–20 µm at 300 mm wafer size, and allows to move it and perform subsequent operations (including operations with heating, for example, metal deposition) without additional temporary carriers. One machine with the TAIKO technology already operates in Russia, while in the world about a hundred is in operation.
I would like also to recommend the following solutions:
• a line for grinding and dicing, which allows to obtain wafers with thickness up to 20 µm in the mass production. It can be used, for example, for manufacturing of multi-level memory and in 3D TSV;
• Stealth and Ablation laser dicing, which can be used for through dicing, and for obtaining tranches in various materials (silicon, gallium arsenide, sapphire, silicon carbide). I think that many are interested also in KABRA technology for laser cutting of SiC wafers, which is a productive and cost-effective method.
Large interest can caused by a new CondoX method allowing grinding of wafers with bumps of almost any height and density.
It is quite difficult to tell about the technologies of HANMI in a short article. Let’s pay attention to Fig.5, and a lot of things will become clear. For the same reason I will not dwell on the features of SPTS, they were discussed in the article in the previous issue of the journal (NANOINDUSTRY. 2017. No.2 (72). P. 16–18).
What are the advantages of cooperation with Ikar-Impulse?
We often get repeated orders, that is, after the equipment is delivered, commissioned and operated for some time, and customers have a need to expand or improve production, he again speaks to us. This means that working with us is convenient and profitable. But our customers, probably, will better tell about the specific benefits of cooperation with our company.
What project in Russia would you like to highlight?
We have installed in a number of Russian enterprises a unique equipment for such processes as DBG grinding, Stealth laser dicing, TAIKO grinding, low-temperature plasma-chemical processes for deposition of SiO2/Si3N4 (PECVD), DRIE, PVD of metals, etc.
What are the development plans of the company?
We have outlined a fairly significant qualitative changes, but it is too early to tell about. Let’s wait until the summer. And in the fall we will invite all to a seminar where we will discuss these plans in detail. By the way, as a rule this seminar coincides with the beginning of the Octoberfest in Munich. I hope to be able to discuss all issues also in personal conversation.