The creation of the IBM Almaden Synthetic Development Laboratory (SDL) in the late 1980s marked an important advance in the efficiency with which the Materials Science effort at Almaden impacted the development of new component technologies within IBM's Microelectronics Division. Characteristically, initial testing of new materials requires small amounts of material and takes place in house. Should these materials merit further evaluation, the methodology involved in the production of more than about 50 grams of material is often beyond the researcher's resources and/or expertise. Indeed, the production of one or two kilograms (a few pounds) is often required before the material could be adequately developed into its final manifestation as a photoresist, "microchip" dielectric, or other high technology application. Traditionally, the researcher would turn to an outside vendor who would, once the proper agreements were in place, eventually develop a large-scale production methodology. This would often involve considerable time and expense. In light of the necessity for rapid entry into market in the Electronics industry while maintaining the proprietary nature of the material, the SDL was established as an in-house large-scale material supply for chip development within the Microelectronics Division. Further, should a material become part of the POR (plan of record) for the production of a certain chipset or device, the SDL will facilitate the transfer of the "scaled-up" process for the manufacture of that material to a vendor-partner of IBM, thus decreasing their turn-around time. While the SDL maintains this "scale-up" function on an as-needed basis, it has evolved into a primary source for investigational materials as well as a medium scale (10-500 g) supplier within the Science and Technology function. We provide well over 100 years of collective chemical synthesis experience to help fuel materials innovation and development.
The Synthetic Development Laboratory has prepared multi-kilogram batches of ESCAP photoresist polymer and polyimide dielectric materials, several of which have become industry standards in their respective uses in photoresists and microchip applications. ESCAP polymer-based photoresist is now used by nearly every manufacturer of advanced semiconductor chips worldwide. We have also been involved in the preparation of other photoresist components such as fluoro-acrylate resist materials (FARM) and dissolution modifying agents, photoacid generator and photosensitizer design and development, bilayer resist components, organometallic compounds used to deposit copper or gold metal onto semiconductor chips, the preparation of lubricants used in advanced hard disk drives, materials for electrophotography and quantum computing.
Currently work is proceeding in the following areas:
- stabilization and purification of nanoparticles for novel lithography schemes and for nanoelectronics
- lithographic enhancement compounds
- preparation and scale-up of monomers and polymers for 193-nm and i193-nm (immersion) high resolution photoresists, e-beam and EUV lithography applications
- Airgap process development and polymeric materials for self-assembly
- monomers and polymers for imageable low-K dielectric applications