Semiconductor manufacturers moving into the 2 nm process are facing challenges in accurately measuring the dimensions of key components, such as transistor structure, size, and film thickness. Based on industry's demand for state-of-the-art measurements for in-vehicle electronics and a new generation of semiconductors, the Department of Industrial Technology (DoIT) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has coordinated with the British Office Taipei in jointly promoting cooperation between ITRI and Oxford Instruments. The parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Oct. 28 for a joint laboratory of leading-edge metrology and inspection technology used in semiconductor measurements. The signatories intend to integrate the joint R&D capabilities of ITRI and Oxford Instruments, laying the foundation for next-generation semiconductor measurement capacities.
According to statistics tabulated in a market poll by Mordor Intelligence, the size of the market for semiconductor measurement and testing equipment in 2020 was US$4.1647 billion, and it is expected to reach US$5.3734 billion by 2026, highlighting the enormous potential for development. The DoIT stressed that based on Taiwan's cutting edge in its complete semiconductor industry chain and 2 nm manufacturing technology, the collaboration between ITRI and Oxford Instrument constitutes a milestone in the advanced measurement of semiconductors and will accelerate the development of inspection technologies. Oxford Instruments is a world-renowned multinational instrument and equipment manufacturer, providing advanced products and service around the world, while ITRI possesses world's leading semiconductor measurement technology.
ITRI Executive Vice President Alex Y.M. Peng stated that ITRI has been dedicated to R&D projects spanning across semiconductor and optoelectronic industry chains. Presently, it has developed excellent technical inspection capabilities in the scale-down to 2-3 nm wafer manufacturing. ITRI and Oxford Instruments commenced technology cooperation in 2017 in the development of semiconductor optoelectronic components and equipment. The two sides forged a strong cooperative relationship and leveraged the strengths of each other, he added, which set the basis for a new round of cooperation. “This time we will work on cutting-edge measurement technology for advanced manufacturing processes and key tools in monitoring yields in mass production. We hope that the cooperation between Taiwan and the UK will accelerate the technological progress of both sides and open new horizons for the semiconductor industry,” he said.
John Dennis, Representative of British Office Taipei, said, “I welcome the signing of this MoU with great excitement. The importance of semiconductors has now become abundantly clear to people around the world. The UK has several world-leading semiconductor companies ranging from ultra-low-power IC design to Compound Semiconductor design and production. Furthermore, we have important specialist companies like Oxford Instruments providing high tech equipment and services to the world's leading industrial companies and scientific research communities such as ITRI in Taiwan. Taiwan is already well known as a world leader in semiconductors, having both the world’s most advanced processes and the majority of the world’s semiconductor foundry production capacity. And ITRI is playing an instrumental role in developing Taiwanese semiconductor industry. I look forward to seeing this collaboration leading to ever increasing innovation and partnership.”
Oxford Instruments Director of Product Christian Lang remarked that it is vital to have insight into development opportunities in the industry. The development of semiconductor technology is focused on miniaturization, high performance, and low power consumption. In particular, 3D chip stacking design has been a profound breakthrough. By relying on the well-established inspection capabilities of ITRI, Oxford Instruments will continue to develop state-of-the-art technology for the next generation of semiconductor materials, he said. Mr. Lang hopes this cooperation will further generate semiconductor-related innovations to address the future challenges of industry.
Besides the signing of the cooperative MoU, Oxford Instruments will also move its Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) to the joint laboratory at ITRI for more applications. The AFM can speed up key dimension inspections of semiconductor wafer structures by up to 10 times, can be applied to the measurement of semiconductor 3D structures.
Amid the ever-changing development of semiconductor technology, advanced measurement technology will be seen as a key to success in semiconductor manufacturing. The cooperation between ITRI and Oxford Instruments will highlight the role of measurement technology in system integration and cross-field innovation, further assisting industry in transition and upgrading.
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