Applied Materials and NUS launch Advanced Materials Corporate Lab

25 October 2018 | Research
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Applied Materials, Inc. and National University of Singapore (NUS) have jointly launched the Applied Materials-NUS Advanced Materials Corporate Lab. This is Applied Materials’ first research laboratory jointly set up with a university in Singapore and its establishment is supported by the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF). Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance and Chairman of the NRF, was the Guest-of-Honour at the launch ceremony held today at NUS.

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The S$70 million Applied Materials-NUS Advanced Materials Corporate Lab was officially launched by Mr Heng Swee Keat (third from left), Minister for Finance and Chairman of the National Research Foundation Singapore.

The lab combines Applied Materials’ leading expertise in materials engineering and semiconductor technologies with NUS’ world-class and multi-disciplinary R&D capabilities that span applied chemistry, materials science and microelectronics process engineering. The goal of the collaboration is to accelerate the discovery and commercialisation of new materials for manufacturing next-generation semiconductors. Moore’s Law scaling, the main driver of semiconductor improvements for the past 50 years, is becoming challenged as emerging applications based on A.I. and big data require orders of magnitude improvements in chip performance and efficiency. Materials innovation will have an increasingly important role in achieving these improvements and continuing to advance the industry roadmap.

The Applied Materials-NUS collaboration will focus on R&D in advanced materials engineering with the intent to create innovations that can be quickly transferred into commercial applications. NUS has invested in basic research in advanced materials for more than 20 years, and the collaboration with Applied Materials will tap into the deep scientific knowledge that it has built up in this field.  The parties have identified new materials R&D and processing techniques with a focus on deposition and etching as two key research areas that will help pioneer innovative semiconductor structures and devices. 

“Materials engineering has helped enable major advancements in semiconductors for decades, but never before has the need for new materials been greater than it is today,” said Dr. Prabu Raja, Senior Vice President of the Semiconductor Products Group at Applied Materials. “We are excited to launch the Applied Materials-NUS Advanced Materials Corporate Lab and look forward to a successful industry-academia collaboration. NUS and its focus on high-impact, multi-disciplinary science and engineering research make it a great institution to work with on new materials for next-generation semiconductors.”

Over 50 researchers, engineers and doctoral students are expected to be trained at the lab. Professor Aaron Thean from the NUS Faculty of Engineering and Professor Richard Wong from the NUS Faculty of Science will co-lead the lab with Applied Materials to steer greater teamwork and exchange between industry and academia. Applied Materials is also sponsoring S$1.5 million in scholarships for doctoral students at the lab to further help grow the pool of highly skilled talent to support the growth of Singapore’s semiconductor industry.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “NUS is honoured and privileged to be Applied Materials’ partner for its first university-based research laboratory in Singapore. The Applied Materials-NUS Advanced Materials Corporate Lab will draw on the complementary strengths of both organisations to address complex industry challenges. Successful projects completed under this Corporate Lab could potentially increase microelectronics-related activities in Singapore, and this in turn, could generate significant economic benefits for the country.”

“We are also deeply appreciative of the generous scholarships supported by Applied Materials, which will attract more talented students to pursue doctoral training in advanced materials and engineering. These young talents will further strengthen Singapore’s position as a leading hub for advanced electronics,” Prof Tan added.

The NRF facilitates the setting up of corporate labs via public-private partnerships. The Applied Materials-NUS Advanced Materials Corporate Lab is the 14th supported by the NRF and the fifth lab in NUS.

NRF CEO Professor Low Teck Seng said, “The semiconductor industry is highly competitive and manufacturers need to constantly innovate and upgrade their technology to stay relevant. Investing in R&D is therefore crucial for Singapore’s continued growth in the sector. The partnership between Applied Materials and NUS will introduce next-generation materials for manufacturing advanced semiconductors here. This is part of our strategy to strengthen innovation in the sector to meet the demands of the market through better products and training of our researchers.” 

For more information about the Applied Materials-NUS Advanced Materials Corporate Lab, click here.