Embracing Sustain­ability with Green Solvents

Our US Technical Service Manager David Rennie talks about Green Solvents and how they can boost the sustainability of chip production...

The demand for semiconductors in millions of everyday products comes at a considerable environmental cost. Our Green Solvents are helping make the manufacturing process safer, more efficient, and more sustainable. We talked to our US Technical Service Manager David Rennie about Green Solvents and how they can boost the sustainability of chip production…

David, what are the main sustainability challenges in today’s semiconductor production?

The fabrication of integrated circuits involves creating thin films of materials. The process of creating these thin films generates residues that need to be cleaned before the next thin film layer can be made. There are two ways to clean these residues: 1) Using wet chemicals such as solvents; 2) Using dry plasma processes. For wet cleaning solvents, the sustainability challenges fall into three categories. First, some toxic chemicals are used for cleaning. These pose health issues for the workers that use them. Secondly, cleaning solvents usually need to be collected as their own waste and then treated as hazardous materials. High volumes generate a lot of waste, and this creates some environmental challenges. Lastly, as new technologies are developed, they require new solvents and processes. If the new solvents and/or processes are not optimized, then chemical consumption rises which increases the cost for the customer and the amount of waste generated.


Our answer to more sustainable wafer cleaning is green solvents. How do they differ from conventional solutions?

Conventional solutions often contain toxic chemicals such as NMP, TMAH, DMSO, etc. Our new green solvents do not use any of these chemicals. In fact, none of the chemicals in our green solvents are regulated in the EU or other countries. Our green solvents are also optimized to dissolve certain types of photoresists that conventional solutions do not. Better dissolution of resists allows the customer to use the cleaning solution longer before disposing of it. This leads to less chemical consumption and less waste generated, both of which are good for sustainability.

How do green solvents contribute to our overall sustainability strategy and those of our customers?

By developing green cleaning solvents that are less toxic and more efficient for resist dissolution, our company is doing their part to protect the health of people and reduce the amount of hazardous chemicals being introduced into the environment. Both are key points in our sustainability strategy. These two concepts directly translate to our customers as well. Their employees don’t need to handle toxic chemicals and they generate smaller volumes of hazardous waste. An additional benefit for our customers is an overall cost reduction for their processes since they can use the green solvents longer.


As chip development gets faster, so too does its scale. Could future semiconductor production cancel out the sustainable advantages of green solvents?

As already mentioned, new technologies will require the development of novel solvents and processes. Now that sustainability is a focus for the industry, R&D teams are bringing sustainability into their development activities for green solvents. So, moving forward I think the ability of R&D teams to develop new green solvents will keep pace with advances in chip design.


How does your experience in the field of sustainability influence your everyday life outside of work?

Working in the field of sustainability has a direct positive impact on my everyday life. It makes me feel good that people are working with safer chemicals. This is the #1 priority and innovating less toxic chemicals helps everyone go home from work safely to see their family and friends.

Green solvents that are more efficient for resist dissolution reduce our customer’s cost to produce their devices. This in turn reduces the cost of the final product to the end consumer which gives more people the ability to afford and access technologies that can enrich their lives. Everyone, including myself, can benefit from this.

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