NanostreeM discuss their ‘road map’ of Safety of nanomaterials in nanoelectronics where they identify the existing gaps in our knowledge
Nanoelectronics relies on multiple semiconductor processes resulting in pattering of macroscopic objects (silicon wafers) at nanoscale level. Advanced technologies developed by semiconductor manufacturers offer unprecedented control of the properties of the finished product in large volumes. The rapid pace of progress in the semiconductor manufacturing dictated by the Moore’s economic law also introduces a variety of novel nano-structured materialshaving poorly understood hazardous properties.
The NanoStreeM consortium has taken up the challenge in defining a road map of Safety of nanomaterials in nanoelectronics where we identify the existing gaps in our knowledge and a number of recommendations for their mitigation.
- better understanding of the occupational hazards related to the use of nanomaterials
- better governance of the risks related to of the manipulation of nano-materials on the workers and environment using the semiconductor industry as an example
- intensification of the international cooperation in the areas of standardization and risk governance related to nanomaterial use
- promotion of public knowledge in the understanding of the occupational hazards related to the use of nanomaterials
NanoStreeM at a glance: NanoStreeM_flyer
The nanoelectronics industry plays a key role to solving Europe’s societal challenges; its products and innovations are essential in all market segments where Europe is a recognized global leader; and the intensity of its industrial research and innovation is among the highest in the world. Industrial production accounts for 16% of Europe’s GDP and remains a key driver for innovation, productivity, growth and job creation. Within Europe’s nanoelectronics ecosystem, the European semiconductor industry is estimated to have a worldwide economic value of about 30 billion, and is responsible for 200 000 direct and more than 800 000 induced jobs. The present challenge is to maintain and regain market shares in a hard global competitive environment without compromising on the environmental standards.
Nanoelectronics relies on multiple semiconductor processes resulting in pattering of macroscopic objects (silicon wafers) at nanoscale level. The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors of semiconductor industry pursues increasing resolution of lithographic features and density of the circuit elements. The rapid pace of progress in the semiconductor manufacturing dictated by the Moore’s economic law also introduces a variety of novel nano-structured materials having poorly understood hazardous properties. This is recognized as a shared concern by the industry; therefore a number of small scale process safety and occupational health monitoring campaigns have been conducted.
Overall, the semiconductor industry can be considered predominantly as a user of nanomaterials in integrated circuits fabrication. As a result, new materials, including variety of nanoparticles are constantly introduced in the development of advanced technology nodes. Current advanced technology nodes increasingly use nanoparticles in the slurries for polishing and consider using nanowires for interconnect.
In contrast, understanding properties of engineered materials and how they affect human health and other biological systems and the environment is a relatively new area of scientific study and requires long term efforts, often coming after a product is on the market. The scientific community has not yet been able to derive harmful properties of nanomaterials from the properties of the bulk materials. So a precautionary approach is required when handling and using these materials in circumstances where exposure to nanomaterials cannot be excluded.
The overall goal of the project is to support and coordinate activities in relation to research and development of novel nanoscale or nanofunctionalized materials enabling further increase of semiconductor manufacturers productivity and innovation.