air liquide wafer bunnysuitThe Electronics industry is increasingly relying on new materials to maintain its pace of innovation, and is now delving into previously unexplored areas of the Periodic Table of Elements to enable ever more powerful devices. One such element is Ruthenium, which plays a crucial role in the data storage industry. In fact, Giant Magnetoresistance (“GMR”), an effect that earned Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg their Nobel Prize in 2007, has found industrial applications into hard disk drives, making use of thin layers of ruthenium in the reading head.

Air Liquide was recently honored with a 2009 EuroAsia IC Industry Award for its elegant, innovative solution for Ruthenium thin film deposition known as ToRuS. Developed under Air Liquide’s ALOHA product line, ToRuS addresses the challenges related to stringent process and cost requirements related to ruthenium’s high and volatile cost that potentially prevents more widespread usage in other semiconductor devices. The ToRuS ruthenium precursor is based on a carefully tuned proprietary formulation containing an inorganic ruthenium compound in a tailored solvent mixture.

With the lowest cost of ownership and proven superior performance, ToRuS has gained rapid acceptance in the hard disk drive industry, as evidenced by the comments from Adrian Devasahayam, Ph.D., senior director of technology at Veeco Instruments Inc., one of the leading equipment manufacturer in this field. Remarked Devasahayam, “We recently introduced a ToRuS based deposition technology that enables low temperature Ru CVD deposition to the data storage industry, strengthening our leadership position in providing equipment for the thin film magnetic head market. Air Liquide’s extensive chemical precursor development capabilities and experience complemented Veeco’s know-how in equipment manufacturing to bring this new application to high volume manufacturing.”

In addition to data storage applications, ToRus also has the technical and cost of ownership potential to enable Ruthenium usage in the cost sensitive DRAM memory manufacturing industry. Collaborations with academic partners such as Seoul National University, research institutes, tool makers and customers are on-going to allow this next step.

The innovation and product stewardship exemplified in Air Liquide’s ALOHA product line has recently received international recognition at SEMICON Europa in Dresden, Germany on October 7, where ToRuS was recognized with the prestigious 2009 EuroAsia IC Industry Award in the Enabling Materials category. This award recognizes new materials that have enabled advancement in manufacturing microelectronic devices, and is decided by more than 25,000 independent votes from professionals associated with the electronics industry.

Commenting on this recognition, Jean-Marc Girard, chief technology officer of Air Liquide’s Electronics & PV business said, “ToRuS development was a great technical challenge, with tremendous effort put forth to turn a good idea into a superior product. This award and the votes we have earned recognize that Air Liquide has set a major milestone in the Electronics industry by enabling affordable, high quality ruthenium deposition technology.”