Applied Materials and the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS have recently announced a significant collaboration to establish Europe's largest technology hub for semiconductor metrology and process analysis. Located at the Center Nanoelectronic Technologies of Fraunhofer IPMS in Dresden, the hub aims to provide cutting-edge metrology systems to accelerate semiconductor research and enhance development projects in Europe, focusing on the ICAPS (Internet of Things, Communications, Automotive, Power, and Sensors) market segments.

Applied Materials’ eBeam metrology equipment at cleanroom of Fraunhofer IPMS. Source: Fraunhofer IPMS.

Equipped with Applied Materials' advanced eBeam metrology equipment, including the VeritySEM® CD-SEM (critical dimension scanning electron microscope) systems, the technology hub will be operated by Applied engineers and R&D experts. This will grant Fraunhofer IPMS and its partners access to industry-leading metrology systems, facilitating advanced wafer-level metrology in their industrial CMOS environment. The collaboration will enable Fraunhofer IPMS to loop wafers directly with semiconductor manufacturers, enhancing their research capabilities.

The collaborative metrology hub is expected to accelerate learning cycles, enabling the development of new applications for the Fraunhofer Institute, Applied Materials, and their customers and partners across Europe. The technology hub will possess the capability to test and qualify processes on various substrate materials and wafer thicknesses, catering to the diverse European semiconductor landscape.

Metrology plays a crucial role in microchip production, enabling precise measurements that monitor and control the quality of individual semiconductor manufacturing steps. Chipmakers rely on metrology equipment at critical points to validate physical and electrical characteristics and maintain target yields. The establishment of this technology hub signifies a significant stride forward in advancing semiconductor research and development capabilities in Europe.