China Daily, February 21 (Reporter Zhao Lei) In the ubiquitous and omnipotent electronic equipment, the most critical part is the integrated circuit, which is inseparable from life and seems remote and mysterious. The birth of a chip is to lay hundreds of millions of transistors and kilometers of wires between the size of the nail plate. This process needs to go through design, manufacturing, packaging, testing and other links, thus forming a complete integrated circuit industry chain.
In the past 30 years, integrated circuit technology has driven the development of the entire electronic information industry. The electronic information industry with integrated circuit as the core has surpassed the traditional industry represented by automobile, oil and steel, and become the world's largest industry. In the next two decades, integrated circuit technology will continue to evolve towards nanometer, which is still the key to the development of information technology. In order to win the battle of key core technologies, CETC focused on ion implanter, CMP and other integrated circuit core equipment to make efforts to solve key problems and build the original technology origin of integrated circuit equipment and the modern industrial chain leader.
Now, how is the development of integrated circuit in China? What efforts have been made by CETC's scientific research team? What development path should integrated circuits take? Recently, the reporter interviewed Wang Zhiyue, the chief scientist of CETC, and asked him to open a window for us to explore the mysteries of integrated circuits.
Reporter: As we all know, chips are called "industrial food" in modern society. Why is a small chip so magical? As an expert in the field of integrated circuits, can you give us a brief introduction based on your research direction?
In our life, from TV remote control to mobile phones and TV sets, as long as it is an automatic electronic device, we need to use chips. In the future, AI, smart cars and the Internet of Things will also be inseparable from chips. In order to turn grains of sand that can be seen everywhere into chips with high computing power in mobile phones and computers, we rely on high-end electronic manufacturing equipment represented by lithography machines, ion implantation machines, chemical mechanical polishing (CMP), film deposition, etching, cleaning, etc.
Making a chip the size of a nail cap is as difficult as building a high-rise building on a foundation equal to one-tenth of the diameter of a hair. This technology is very sophisticated and extremely difficult. The whole manufacturing process often needs to go through thousands of process steps, each of which depends on the processing of specific electronic manufacturing equipment. Therefore, integrated circuit manufacturing equipment is the foundation of industrial development, which integrates the achievements of human ultra-fine processing technology, represents the highest level of micro-manufacturing in the world today, is the comprehensive embodiment of a country's high-end manufacturing capability, and is also the strategic commanding point of global high-tech national power competition.
Reporter: What efforts has CETC made in the development of core equipment in the field of integrated circuits?
For a long time, CETC has been guided by the national strategic needs and industrial upgrading needs, continued to make efforts to independently innovate the core equipment of high-end integrated circuit electronic manufacturing, established the CETC Research Center for the Development of Core Technology of Integrated Circuit Equipment, and focused on breaking through the blocking points of independent innovation of integrated circuit equipment. Focusing on the ion implanter equipment, we have achieved the independent innovation and development of series products such as medium-beam, large-beam, high-energy, and special products. The process nodes cover 14 nm, and the cumulative sales of more than 100 sets have realized the localization of the whole series of products, and fully supported the advanced industrial foundation of integrated circuit equipment. Focusing on chemical-mechanical polishing (CMP) equipment, the 200mm CMP domestic market share has reached more than 70%, and the 300mm CMP equipment has passed the mainstream production line process validation, and the key indicators have met the 28nm process technical requirements, and the independent supply capacity has steadily improved.
Reporter: We know that it is difficult to conquer key technologies, and the achievements just mentioned will not come easily. What impressed you most in the process of collecting intelligence and tackling key problems? Can you share your insights with us?
"Develop domestic equipment and cast the cornerstone of Guoxin", this banner can be seen everywhere in our scientific research sites and production workshops. I think this not only points out the direction for scientific researchers, but also reflects the mission of the group company.
As soon as I graduated from university, I was lucky to participate in the research and development of the first 1.5-2 micron lithography machine in China. As we all know, lithography machine is the "jewel in the crown" of semiconductor manufacturing, and also the most technologically advanced equipment of all integrated circuit manufacturing equipment, including tens of thousands of parts and components. It integrates the top technologies in the fields of mathematics, optics, fluid mechanics, polymer physics and chemistry, surface physics and chemistry, precision instruments, machinery, automation, software, image recognition, etc. Its technological level directly determines the chip manufacturing process and performance.
When joining the team, it is the critical moment of equipment process commissioning. For the installation and commissioning of such high-end precision equipment, we need to wear clean clothes in an ultra-clean environment. In order to save time, we often stay for a day and a half. The purification room keeps constant temperature all the year round. In summer, I just sit and sweat. I also need to concentrate on adjusting parameters and meticulously record and discuss. The strong patriotism and persistent pursuit of scientific research of the older generation have produced a strong shock in my heart and become my own requirements.
In recent years, the demand for independent innovation of high-end integrated circuit equipment is urgent, and a fire is burning in my heart. "We must quickly break through the core technology, which is the need of the country". This belief urges us to hurry up every minute and every second. Based on the urgent need of national strategy, we worked hard day and night to ensure the initiation of many major projects such as integrated circuit core equipment. In the past 40 years, I am more convinced that the path of the localization of the domestic integrated circuit equipment industry we are engaged in is extremely difficult and great. I am willing to continue to play the role of a veteran and contribute all the strength to the country on this path.
Reporter: How do you think we should expand the development space in the field of integrated circuits?
Key technologies are the basic core capabilities to maintain national security and ensure economic development. We should make every effort to speed up the breakthrough of innovative and leading technologies. According to the development route of semiconductor equipment technology system, I believe that we should explore the cutting-edge technology fields such as microsystem integration and application, the third generation of semiconductors, and the new generation of optical/quantum chips beyond Moore, and tackle the core technology of manufacturing processes such as material preparation, chip manufacturing and packaging testing.
The field of integrated circuits is a typical capital-intensive, technology-intensive and talent-intensive industry. At present, the key tasks we have laid out are the key core equipment in the industrial chain, and its importance and difficulty can be imagined.
We should constantly improve the technical system, enrich the product system, expand the application system, pay close attention to the theoretical basis and engineering application from the source, find the blocking points, blocking points, and pain points, and work together with domestic upstream and downstream resources to solve key problems, systematically layout the core equipment such as materials, chips, packaging, and realize the independent innovation and development of semiconductor equipment. We should thoroughly implement the development concept of demand-driven, problem-oriented, enterprise-oriented, and industry-university-research cooperation, establish a mechanism for continuous investment in research and development funds, and, with the continuous support of major national science and technology projects, make overall use of national, enterprise, social capital and other funds, continue to strengthen the investment in research and development of cutting-edge and common technologies in semiconductor equipment, and improve the technology research and development platform and test and verification platform, We will promote the development of semiconductor equipment towards the direction of R&D and design, the autonomy of core technology, the integration of equipment and technology, and the collaborative development of integrated innovation.