The driving force in the semiconductor industry continues to be the relentless pursuit of higher performance and lower unit costs. An impressive series of process innovations, including chemical mechanical planarization (CMP), has enabled this trend for nearly four decades. At various steps in processing an integrated circuit (IC), surface topography from underlying layers can cause yield-limiting problems for the next process step. CMP emerged as the premier method for achieving ultra-flat surfaces to enable many of the advanced electronic devices currently in production.
Miniaturization and power management are surfacing as the next set of drivers to take us through the coming decades. CMP will once again prove itself as a necessary process step to continue driving innovation for advancing CMOS and expanding other markets including MEMS, optoelectronics, photovoltaic and advanced substrates. These markets will increase the vast number of opportunities for new materials and new devices to leverage the unique capabilities of CMP.