Apple joins imec in fight to make the IC-industry greener
R&D hub for nano- and digital technologies, imec, says that Apple Inc. has joined imec's new Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies and Systems (SSTS) research program. The SSTS program is an initiative rallying stakeholders from across the IC value chain to anticipate the environmental impact of choices made at chip technology's definition phase.
The aim of the program, using concrete and reliable models, and detailed (carbon) footprint analyses, is to help the IC-making industry cut back on its ecological footprint – as part of the global fight against climate change, resources depletion and pollution, imec explains in a press release. IC technology, the its industry, is a fundamental enabler of our 21st century lifestyles. It is an essential component of countless 'everyday' objects. Over the years, the introduction of ever smaller, more powerful and increasingly more energy-efficient generations of chips has made smart devices progressively more sustainable. And as pointed out in the press release, it is precisely the world's growing dependence on semiconductor technology and its intricate production processes that have largely added to the IC-making industry's own ecological footprint. This footprint not only characterised by high energy consumption and the use of chemicals, scarce materials, and ultrapure water – but also by the emission of greenhouse gases such as NF3. Creating a snowball effect – backed by Apple Inc. "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," says Luc Van den hove, CEO of imec in the press release. Van den hove continues to say that companies realise they can only become carbon neutral if their whole supply chain follows suit. "So, that is the snowball effect we want to create – together with Apple – today: 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," he adds. Determined to contribute to the fight against global climate change, resources depletion and pollution, fabs and equipment suppliers around the world have been doubling their efforts to come to a more sustainable IC manufacturing value chain. "Research has shown, for instance, that close to 75% of a mobile device's CO2 emissions can be attributed to its fabrication – with almost half of that resulting from the underlying IC manufacturing. Yet, so far, a holistic approach to reducing the IC-making industry's emissions has been lacking," imec writes in the press release.