March 27, 1998 in Social Responsibility News

SAMSUNG Electronics Semiconductor Division Exports Wafer Technology

SEOUL, Korea - March 25, 1998 - Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., one of the world`s leading semiconductor device makers, has achieved a breakthrough in wafer technology resulting from technical corroboration`s with wafer manufacturers. Samsung initially aimed to advance the present state of wafer technology, which is a role traditionally belonging to materials scientists, in order to reduce device production cost, but ended up exporting the technology leading wafer manufacturers to now bring a refreshing impact to both the wafer and device manufacturing industries.

Samsung Electronics (Led by President and CEO: Jong Yong Yun) announced on March 25, 1998 the development of high performance `Low-Defect Crystal Wafers` for producing high density memory devices, including 64M and 256M dynamic random access memories (DRAM), and other next generation devices.

The present advance is expected to be a significant factor for Samsung in taking the leading role in manufacturing key future devices. Samsung further announced a successful completion of a series of licensing agreements granting Samsung patent and other related intellectual property rights to leading Japanese wafer manufacturers including Shin-Etsu Handotai Co. (SEH) and Mitsubishi Materials Silicon Co. (MSIL).

For Samsung, the use of Low-Defect Crystal Wafers in the production of high density DRAMs, including 64M DRAMs, is expected bring cost savings in excess of 200 million dollars by the year 2000, and multi-million dollars in patent royalty this year.

As the circuit integration of a memory device plows into the low submicron realm in recent years from 16M to 64M to 256M, conventional silicon wafers tend to suffer from low production yields due to surface defects known as `Crystal Originated Pit` (COP).

To overcome the surface defect issue, major Japanese wafer manufacturers have applied the technique of epitaxially growing a fresh layer of silicon over the surface of a conventional wafer partitcularly for producing 64M DRAMs.

The epitaxial wafers, however, are significantly more expensive in cost (up to 30-50%) than the conventional wafers and require complex processing subject to other defect issues such as `stacking fault` and `mound` resulting from contamination of material. Understandably, the higher cost of wafer manufacturing puts an obvious strain on the chip cost as well.

In order to avoid switching to epitaxial wafers, Samsung, since 1996, has sought alternative directions and was successful in confining or eliminating defect region of a conventional silicon wafer suitable for high-integration processing. Samsung has been using the Low-Defect Crystal Wafers in its mass production since the end of 1997 and has tasted fruits of hard labor through a substantial production yield and cost savings.

Samsung has enjoyed longstanding business relationships with the leading wafer manufacturers like SEH and MSIL both of whom over the past several years have supported Samsung`s efforts in developing the current wafer defect-reducing scheme. Both companies have agreed to a multi-million dollar license pact under a series of Samsung patents now pending in 8 different countries, including Japan and United States of America. This culmination of efforts by Samsung, SEH and MSIL stands to demonstrate that the technology covering the material aspects, often ignored in the esoteric sectors of device industry, may lead and provide basis for defining the industry`s state of the art. Additionally, the current sequence of events is an indication of an emerging presence, if not the reemphasis, of the materials manufacturers in the elite world of device manufacturing.

Samsung`s technology covering the Low-Defect Crystal Wafers, with corroboration by SEH and MSIL, is expected to provide the ultimate basis for developing `Pure Silicon Wafer` technology, which is presently in its final stages of development. The Pure Silicon Wafers, which contains virtualrly no defects, are expected play a significant role in Samsung`s core technical efforts for producing the next generation memory devices including 256M DRAM.

Technical Highlight:

Birth to Dream Silicon Wafer` Typically, the silicon wafer manufacturing technologies are in the prohibited domain of materials engineering. Breaking all conventional norm and rules of tradition, Samsung Electronics has delved into the world of silicon melt and hot zone furnaces and found themselves in a position to sharing a few ideas of their own to the masters.


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