Cupertino tech giant Apple has joined a new Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies and Systems (SSTS) research programme created by Imec, a research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies.
The SSTS programme aims to anticipate the environmental impact of making chips at the technology’s definition phase.
With concrete and reliable models and detailed (carbon) footprint analysis, the programme aims to help the IC-making industry cut back on its ecological footprint as part of the global fight against climate change, resources depletion, and pollution.
IC (Integrated circuit) is the fundamental building block of all modern electronic devices. It is the heart of various innovations, including the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and cloud computing applications.
The world’s growing dependence on semiconductor technology and its intricate production processes have largely added to the IC-making industry’s own ecological footprint, characterised not only by high energy consumption, the use of chemicals and scarce materials, but also by the emission of greenhouse gases.
“Many systems companies are carbon neutral today for their corporate footprints and have expressed the ambition to have their entire carbon footprint to net-zero by 2030. We have that data, and are ready to support the industry with all necessary insights, tools, instruments, and numbers,” says Luc Van den hove, CEO of Imec.
“Moreover, companies realise they can only become carbon neutral if their whole supply chain follows suit. So, that is the snowball effect we want to create – together with Apple,” he adds.
To fight against global climate change, resources depletion, and pollution, fabs and equipment suppliers have been doubling their efforts to come to a more sustainable IC manufacturing value chain. However, a holistic approach to reducing the IC-making industry’s emissions has been lacking.
“That is why Imec is launching its Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies and Systems (SSTS) research programme,” says Luc Van den hove. “It is a programme drawing on our widely acclaimed fab expertise. It combines Imec’s insights in infrastructure, technology, and machinery to help the complete IC value chain reduce its ecological footprint.”
Imec: What you need to know
Based out of Leuven, Belgium, Imec leverages its R&D infrastructure and its team of more than 5,000 employees and top researchers for R&D in advanced semiconductor and system scaling, silicon photonics, artificial intelligence, beyond 5G communications and sensing technologies.
The company has research sites across Belgium, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, and the USA, and offices in China, India, and Japan.