Engineering Research Center to Focus on Environmental Issues in Semiconductor Manufacturing

May 10, 1996

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) have created the NSF/SRC Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing. The new center will study the environmental, health, and safety aspects of the semiconductor manufacturing process.

Through the center, which will be housed at the University of Arizona, scientists and engineers from Arizona, MIT, Stanford, and UC-Berkeley will address the semiconductor industry's concern for a more environmentally sound manufacturing process. The Arizona ERC will work in partnership with firms from the semi-conductor industry that will contribute to the strategic planning of the research program.

The semiconductor industry makes microchips for electronic components that power a variety of products including personal computers, medical instruments and cellular phones. A significant issue facing the industry is that semiconductor production requires a large amount of highly purified water to rinse and clean a silicon wafer. The industry is interested in reducing the amount of water and energy needed to manufacture microchips. The industry is also looking for safe alternatives to ethylene-based glycol ethers used as cleaning solvents.

NSF and SRC, the research arm of the Semiconductor Industry Association, will each commit $1 million per year for five years. SEMATECH, a consortium of U.S. semiconductor companies and the Department of Defense, will contribute $750,000 in start-up funds.