EU research institutes partner three SMEs to industrialize high-density 3D integrated capacitors

October 24, 2013 // By Paul Buckley
CEA-Leti, Fraunhofer IPMS-CNT are collaborating with three European SMEs, IPDiA, Picosun and SENTECH Instruments in a project aimed at industrializing 3D integrated capacitors with world-record density.

The two-year, EC-funded PICS project is designed to develop a disruptive technology that results in a new world record for integrated capacitor densities (over 500 nF/mm(2)) combined with higher breakdown voltages. The project will strengthen the SME partners' position in several markets, such as automotive, medical and lighting, by offering an even higher integration level and more miniaturization.

The fast development of applications based on smart and miniaturized sensors in aerospace, medical, lighting and automotive domains has increasingly linked requirements of electronic modules to higher integration levels and miniaturization (to increase the functionality combination and complexity within a single package). At the same time, reliability and robustness are required to ensure long operation and placement of the sensors as close as possible to the 'hottest' areas for efficient monitoring.

High-capacitance density is required to optimize - among other performance requirements - power-supply and high decoupling capabilities. Improved capacitance density is also required because of the smaller size of the package.

IPDiA has for many years developed an integrated capacitors technology that out performs current technologies (e.g. tantalum capacitors) in terms of stability in temperature, voltage, aging and reliability. Now, a technological solution is needed to achieve higher capacitance densities, reduce power consumption and improve reliability. The key enabling technology chosen to bridge this technological gap is atomic layer deposition (ALD) that allows an impressive quality of dielectric.

The PICS project consortium will address all related technological challenges and set up a cost-effective industrial solution. Picosun will develop ALD tools adapted to IPDiA's 3D trench capacitors. SENTECH Instruments will provide a new solution to more accurately etch high-K dielectric materials. CEA-Leti and Fraunhofer IPMS-CNT will help the SMEs create innovative technological solutions to improve their competitiveness and gain market share. Finally, IPDiA will manage the industrialization of these processes.

The PICS project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Program managed by REA-Research Executive Agency (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement