At the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB in Erlangen as well as its project partners, the operations around the largest European joint research project on efficiency increase in semiconductor industry – IMPROVE – have been started.
What makes it unique is that IMPROVE is a purely semiconductor-oriented project in the center of which stands the production in Europe. For this reason, a number of renowned European semiconductor manufacturers and equipment suppliers as well as companies with European production sites have affiliated with research institutes, universities, and software suppliers to a strategic alliance in order to improve the efficiency of the European semiconductor industry and to strengthen its position in a tightened global competition.
The acronym IMPROVE stands for “Implementing Manufacturing Science Solutions to Increase Equipment Productivity and Fab Performance“. From nine funded projects, IMPROVE was chosen as the research proposal with the best evaluation within the framework of a Europe wide call of the ENIAC Joint Undertaking (“European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council“) for a funding by the EU and its member states. Regarding national support, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has made the biggest fund available. IMPROVE has a total budget of 37.7 Mio. Euro. It is financed equally by the project partners from industry, science8, and research on the one side, and by ENIAC and the European Union as well as by the national public authorities on the other side. The BMBF contributes to the funding with 3.5 Mio. Euro.
Within the framework of IMPROVE, novel methods and equipment for a better control of process fluctuations and reduced cycle times in the production process are developed. This allows for a more flexible and cost-efficient application and operation of the expensive equipment in the semiconductor industry. The project is divided into three subject areas – “Virtual Metrology“, “Predictive Maintenance“, and “Adaptive Control Planning“. The Fraunhofer IISB is project leader of the work packages “Specifications“ and “Equipment Forum“.
Thus it is responsible for the drafting of the general specifications for the global use of the developments in all three subject areas as well as for the development and introduction of methods for efficiency increase. The broad-based coordination of the project with workshops at all European partner locations helps avoiding stand-alone solutions and ensures the applicability of the results in industrial production. Through the “Equipment Forum“, the manufacturers and the suppliers of semiconductor equipment are closely involved in the research process. By this, the results of IMPROVE can be communicated without a delay, and the modifications necessary for the equipment production can be taken into consideration at an early stage during the development and construction cycle.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB, which was founded in 1985, conducts applied research and development in the fields of micro and nanoelectronics, power electronics, and mechatronics. With technology, equipment, and material development for nanoelectronics as well as its work on power electronic systems for energy efficiency, hybrid and electric vehicles, the institute is internationally acknowledged. A staff of 150 works in contract research for industry and public authorities. Besides its headquarters in Erlangen, the IISB has two branch labs in Nuremberg and Freiberg. The IISB closely cooperates with the Chair of Electron Devices at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.