TSMC Donates Semiconductor Materials Analysis Equipment to Universities to Cultivate Talents for the Industry
TSMC has forged long-term collaboration with universities via Joint Development Projects (JDP) to cultivate new talents for the industry. In September 2020, TSMC's Quality and Reliability (QR) organization donated an advanced materials analysis tool (Dual-Beam Focus Ion Beam Microscope, DB-FIB) to National Chiao Tung University (NCTU). As NCTU's first Dual-Beam FIB Microscope, this equipment is able to navigate through 8-inch wafer, slicing through specific area of interest with FIB, and provide high resolution SEM images at the same location to reveal microstructure at 4nm resolution. It can greatly enhance the performance and efficiency of materials analysis.
Since TSMC Joint Developing Project (JDP) was first initiated, the scope has grown continuously ever since. In 2019, TSMC has funded 79 JDPs with 7 domestic and 15 overseas universities, and the annual funding level has reached NT$113 million. This JDP effort has yielded fruitful results as evidenced by over 100 of the U.S. Patent applications in 2019. As a key participant of this cooperate effort, QR team has also been actively engaging with top Taiwan domestic universities to strengthen their teaching and research capabilities by providing research funding, sharing advanced samples, and guiding the pathfinding directions. As of the end of 2020, TSMC's QR team has sponsored 16 JDPs covering materials analysis, wafer processing improvement, and chip designs with five universities. Some of the JDP results have been incorporated into advanced process node development.
Working with those universities, QR team recognized that there is a major gap in equipment between industry standard specifications and universities, which limits the universities' research scope and hinders rapid development. Starting as early as 2014, QR team has donated high performance analysis equipment taken offline from most-advanced process node to universities. In addition, QR team has also provided funding for equipment transportation and installation and also training of university personals in order to ensure the donated equipment can operate at optimum level.
Collaborating Universities and Research Categories of TSMC Joint Developing Projects
National Chiao-Tung University would like to extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation to TSMC for recognizing the importance of high-end analysis equipment to talent cultivation, where it is often out of reach with university budget constraints. With the donation and installation of this Dual-Beam FIB microscope, students now have the opportunity to bridge the classroom knowledge with actual materials research and applications. Not only we can expand our teaching and research scope, it also strengthens our capability for more JDPs with TSMC in the future.
New materials development has been and will continuously be playing a critical role in semiconductor industry, especially with the ever increasing demand in high performance computing and high speed 5G network applications. In addition to development of advanced process nodes, innovative materials are also needed for advanced packaging technology development which requires heterogeneous integration. TSMC will continuously collaborate with Taiwan domestic universities closely to cultivate talents, accelerate emerging materials development and advance materials analysis capabilities.
Following the success of JDP with National Chiao Tung University, TSMC QR team is planning to initiate new JDP with National Tsing-Hua University in 2021, with focus on cutting-edge development of materials analysis methodology development. Moreover, QR team is also planning more intern positions for students who participated in JDPs. This will provide them more opportunities to have hands-on experience in real industry setting.