New opportunities in electronics
Based on organic electronics, Arkema is developing applications in microelectronics. Research work is being conducted in partnership with industry and CEA.
For many years the semiconductor industry has been able to double the performance levels of electronic components every 18 months.
Today it is faced with the limits of optical lithography on silicon, unable to maintain resolution below a certain level.
Up to now this technology ensured the constant miniaturization of transistors. This is essential for improving the performance of microprocessors, reducing production costs and decreasing the energy consumption of electronic devices.
Chemical World Tour report: Arkema and CEA researchers explain how chemistry can help manufacture, by enhancing their performance, nano-electronic components with infinitely small resolutions.
Resorting to nanostructuring
Research to break through the miniaturization limits by further shortening wavelengths to extreme UV levels is lagging, stymied by very complex technical challenges.
In this context, Arkema has developped a parallel solution based on the capacity of certain block copolymers to self-assemble into periodic nanoscale patterns. Block copolymer technology can produce nanostructures on the scale a a few nanometers. These geometric designs can be vey precisely modulated. Arkema's expertise in self-assembled block copolymers will make it possible to obtain extreme resolutions, on the oder of 10 nanometers, to produce the patterns of future electronic circuits.
This innovative solution might even make it possible to go beyond the limits of optical lithography and therefore to continue following Moore’s Law. The latter predicts that the number of transistors in microprocessors will double every eighteen months.
Developing organic electronics
The use of organic materials, rather than silicon, may give rise to a new field of printable, transparent and flexible electronic components.
These materials should lead to the emergence of new applications such as flexible screens, smart packaging and clothes, flexible and semi-transparent photovoltaic panels.
In the field of “large-area printed electronics”, innovation is focused on performance levels and the lifetime of the systems, production costs and the integration of several functions in the same item.
Thanks to the recent acquisition of a company called Piezotech, Arkema has expanded its range of high-performance materials made with electroactive block coplymers. These piezo or ferroelectric polymers (available in powder or film) have the ability to change shape when they are subjected to electrical voltage or, conversely, to convert a mechanical force into electrical energy.
Initially, the aim is to develop piezoelectric inks. These conductive polymer inks are printable on flexible materials such as tags. These smart tags are equipped with sensors and are able to provide useful information about a product or its storage conditions. Household objects, such as packaging, may soon be equipped with sensors (e.g. temperature, shock, humidity) and communication tools.
Partnerships to develop tomorrow's applications in microelectronics
In 2012, Arkema established a partnership with CEA (Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission) to create:
- a public-private laboratory dedicated to large-area printed electronics (with the Laboratoire d’Innovation pour les Technologies des Énergies Nouvelles et les nanomatériaux- LITEN- , part of CEA),
- a collaborative research platform dedicated to the development of lithography based on nanostructured polymers (with the Laboratoire d'électronique et de technologie de l'information -LETI -, part of the CEA).
Meanwhile, the Group began a collaboration in Bordeaux (France) with :
- an organic polymer chemistry lab (LCPO), on electronic materials,
- Professor Georges Hadziioanou, head of the Excellence Chair, on advanced materials for information and communication technologies and energy.