We have now entered the age of industry 4.0, in which IoT and AI play important roles. Semiconductor device market is growing drastically, and the demand for higher integration has introduced a shift to 3D from conventional 2D.
For manufacturing of advanced semiconductor devices, complex three-dimensional structures need to be fabricated on wafers. Various processes such as deposition, lithography, etch, and cleaning, are repeated for a number of times.
As the advancement in semiconductor devices continues, technological level required to semiconductor production equipment becomes higher.
The ever-changing evolution of semiconductor devices
More than a half century has passed since Moore’s law was advocated by Gordon Moore who later co-founded Intel. Semiconductor devices have become ever smaller since then, yielding greater performances and decreasing costs. The first microprocessor that appeared in 1971 was in the 10-micron technology node and packed some 2,300 transistors on a chip. Today, the most advanced semiconductor devices are approaching the 10 nm node with over 1 billion transistors per chip. The width of the Fin (which serves as the source/drain of a transistor) is less than 10 nm, or the size of just a few dozen silicon atoms. The tolerable process variance is therefore thickness of a few atoms. It means that the semiconductor manufacturing technology has finally entered a stage where atomically precise control is required.
Technological strategies for the future
1) Proposing process integration-based solutions
With our wide-ranging portfolio of semiconductor equipment, TEL designs and develops new process integrations and solutions for our customers.
2) Developing innovative technologies through an ecosystem
TEL is building a technological ecosystem by working with industry consortia, individual equipment manufacturers, and materials suppliers, to ensure smooth collaboration. The ecosystem allows TEL to hire highly qualified personnel throughout the world and gives us access to world-class experts, wherever they may be, so we can develop innovative technology solutions.
3) Delivering advanced ecotechnology that contributes to the semiconductor manufacturing industry and enables a sustainable society
Semiconductor devices have made it possible to provide high-performance electronics at low cost and with very little energy consumption. TEL is encouraging the development of ecotechnology through our internal Ecotechnology Award program.
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These technological strategies are based on our engineers and our intellectual properties (IP). TEL is taking aggressive measures to secure and utilize IP rights to differentiate our product technology from that of our competitors.
Holding Intellectual Properties
TEL files patents in several countries to protect and utilize intellectual properties in the regions where TEL and its customers engage the business. The ratio of the number of foreign patent applications to the number of Japanese patent applications (Global Patent Application Ratio) for TEL has remained around 70% for seven years in a row. This has contributed to the globalization of our business, of TEL which overseas sales account for 80% of total sales.