Leading semiconductor manufacturers TSMC, Samsung, and GlobalFoundries have joined Belgium-based imec's Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies & Systems (SSTS) research program, along with Japan-based Rapidus.

The partnership brings together semiconductor industry stakeholders such as equipment suppliers and system companies, and is a significant step toward reducing the impact of the semiconductor value chain on the environment, according to an imec statement. Launched in 2021, the SSTS program provides detailed information on the environmental impact of choices made during semiconductor technology definition, using the imec.netzero tool that culminates multiple datasets for a quantified-up understanding of the environmental impact of semiconductor logic and memory manufacturing. With nearly three-quarters of mobile devices' CO2 emissions traced back to the chip manufacturing process, and chips themselves representing nearly half of that footprint, the involvement of global foundries is an essential milestone for the entire semiconductor ecosystem, according to Luc Van den Hove, the CEO of imec. The SSTS program aims to develop recommendations for improving the ecological footprint of chips by suggesting novel processes and technology optimizations.