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Metrology

Report Outlines Strategic Opportunities for US Semiconductor Manufacturing

US Dept. of Commerce issues seven grand challenges

Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2022 - 10:58

(NIST: Gaithersburg, MD) -- The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a report outlining seven strategic “grand challenges” in measurement, standardization, and modeling and simulation that, if met, will strengthen the U.S. semiconductor industry.

“The measurement challenges impacting the U.S. semiconductor industry are at a critical stage and must be addressed if we are to ensure U.S. leadership in this important sector,” said Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio. “We’ve received extensive feedback from stakeholders across industry, academia, and government that will help us provide urgently needed measurement services, standards, manufacturing methods, and test beds, and build even stronger partnerships with this industry.”

NIST is the only national laboratory dedicated to measurement science, or metrology. The recently enacted CHIPS and Science Act calls on NIST to conduct critical metrology research and development (R&D) in support of the domestic semiconductor industry to enable advances and breakthroughs for next-generation microelectronics. Metrology is needed at all stages of semiconductor technology development, from basic and applied R&D in the laboratory to demonstrating proof of concept, prototyping at scale, factory fabrication, assembly and packaging, and performance verification prior to final deployment. As devices become smaller and more complex, the ability to measure, monitor, predict, and ensure quality in manufacturing becomes much more difficult.

‘We’ve received extensive feedback from stakeholders across industry, academia, and government that will help us provide urgently needed measurement services, standards, manufacturing methods, and test beds, and build even stronger partnerships with this industry.’—Laurie E. Locascio

The report draws on input received through a series of Semiconductor Metrology Workshops convened by NIST that brought together more than 800 participants from industry, academia, and government. Input was also gathered through a Department of Commerce Request for Information and direct feedback from industry.

Six of the seven grand challenges identified focus on the following: developing metrology for materials purity and properties; future microelectronics manufacturing; advanced packaging to integrate separately manufactured components; enhancing the security of devices across the supply chain; improving tools for modeling and simulating semiconductor materials, designs, and components; and improving the manufacturing process. The final challenge highlights the need for standardizing new materials, processes, and equipment.

“Strategic Opportunities for U.S. Semiconductor Manufacturing: Facilitating U.S. Leadership and Competitiveness through Advancements in Measurements and Standards” can be found on the NIST website. The Department of Commerce and NIST also released a report that provides a summary of the January 2022 Request for Information that helped to inform the grand challenges.

Read more on the CHIPS program at Commerce.gov.

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Founded in 1901, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a nonregulatory federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland, NIST’s mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.