Apple joins IMEC research on how to make chipmaking green

October 28, 2021 // By Peter Clarke
Apple joins IMEC research on how to 'green' chipmaking
Consumer giant Apple has joined a newly-created IMEC research program that will look into the carbon footprint implications of semiconductor design, production and delivery.

IMEC (Leuven, Belgium) is one of the world's leading nanoelectronics research institutes and has created the Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies and Systems (SSTS) research program with Apple as the first partner IMEC can name. Other companies are in the process of joining a spokesperson said.

The SSTS program is intended to rally stakeholders from across the IC value chain to anticipate the environmental impact of choices made at chip technology’s definition phase, IMEC said. The program will analyse the carbon and other footprints of multiple processes with a view to helping the semiconductor industry reduce its ecological footprint to help fight resources depletion, pollution and climate change.

Semiconductor production is characterized by high energy consumption, the use of high-purity chemicals, scarce materials, and ultrapure water and by the emission of greenhouse gases such as NF3.

"Many systems companies are carbon neutral today for their corporate footprints and have expressed the ambition to have their entire carbon footprint to net zero by 2030. They are very committed to achieving that goal, yet often lack the data to decipher the IC part end-to-end. That is where imec comes in. We have that data, and are ready to support the industry with all necessary insights, tools, instruments and numbers," said Luc Van den hove, CEO of IMEC, in a statement.

"Moreover, companies realize they can only become carbon neutral if their whole supply chain follows suit," he added.

Research has shown, for instance, that close to 75 percent of a mobile device’s CO2 emissions can be attributed to its fabrication – with almost half of that resulting from the underlying IC manufacturing.

"I would like to call upon the whole semiconductor value chain not to stand at the side, but to act as one and to join forces with us to cut back the entire semiconductor industry’s ecological footprint."

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