Collaboration and Persistence: Two Critical Components of Technology Innovation

Collaboration and Persistence: Two Critical Components of Technology Innovation

How Brewer Science’s R&D Shapes the Future of Technology by Challenging Today’s Assumptions


In the dynamic realm of technology, pioneers often face skepticism before their innovations are embraced. Imagine the 1980s, a time when the semiconductor industry teetered on the brink of transformation. Amidst uncertainty, Brewer Science challenged the status quo and introduced bottom antireflective coatings (BARCs), which was unconventional at the time and met with hesitancy; experts questioned the wisdom of adding another layer to their intricate processes. Fast forward four decades and we now understand that smaller, faster, more energy-efficient technology wouldn’t have been possible without BARCs.

How do we challenge the status quo, while simultaneously collaborating with industry leaders, to encourage innovation in our industry?

To answer this question, we reflect on the two most important components of innovation throughout Brewer Science’s history: Collaboration and Persistence.

Collaboration, because the root of our innovation has always been our customers. By collaborating with their teams, using their processes, and understanding their applications, Brewer Science provides a specialized approach to problem-solving, keeping the customer center of focus.

Persistence, because we’ve seen the challenges of industry misconception before. From the introduction of BARCs in 1980s, to the introduction of VersaLayer System materials in the 2000s, we have witnessed the industry’s reaction when unconventional methods are presented. We understand the hesitancies. However, we are also confident that with persistence, and attention to the needs of our customers, our R&D efforts pay long-term dividends for not just our customers, but also the entire industry’s innovation.
Collaboration and persistence, two critical components of Brewer Science’s innovation, much like the necessity of both a thermoplastic and thermoset layer in VersaLayer System materials. Collaboration will fall short without persistence, and persistence is not enough to understand the true needs of the customers. Both are needed to innovate a solution.


The Legacy of Innovation: Brewer Science and BARCs

Back in the 1980s, the introduction of bottom antireflective coatings (BARCs) faced skepticism from industry players for several reasons.

  • Unfamiliarity with Additional Layers: One major concern was the introduction of another layer of material between the resist layers in semiconductor manufacturing processes. This added complexity was met with skepticism as it deviated from the conventional methods of fabrication, raising questions about its necessity and potential impact on production efficiency.
  • Perceived Risks: Any deviation from established processes in the semiconductor industry is often viewed with caution due to the high stakes involved. The potential risks associated with incorporating a new material into manufacturing processes, such as compatibility issues, reliability concerns, and potential yield loss, contributed to the skepticism surrounding BARCs.
  • Cost Considerations: Introducing BARCs meant additional costs for semiconductor manufacturers, both in terms of material procurement and process adaptation. Skepticism arose regarding whether the potential benefits of using BARCs would outweigh the associated costs, particularly during a time when cost-effectiveness was paramount in the competitive semiconductor market.
  • Lack of Understanding: BARCs represented a novel approach to addressing issues of reflection and light interference in semiconductor lithography. However, the concept was relatively new and complex, leading to a lack of understanding among industry stakeholders about its potential benefits and implications.
  • Misunderstanding of Functionality: Customers initially misunderstood what BARCs did, often relying on metrics based on the same test structure curve to evaluate their efficacy. They aimed for the same critical dimension (CD) at specific points, not realizing that the benefits of BARCs couldn’t be measured this way. The dimensions of these lines were so small that defects caused by variations wouldn’t be detected until they significantly impacted the device’s performance.

Despite these initial reservations, Brewer Science’s persistence, innovation, and commitment to collaboration ultimately overcame industry skepticism, leading to the widespread adoption of BARCs and paving the way for significant advancements in semiconductor manufacturing processes.

The impact of BARCs within the semiconductor industry was not immediate, as it took several years for their full potential to be realized and widely adopted. Over time, as the benefits of BARCs became increasingly evident—such as improved lithographic performance, enhanced yield, and greater process control—more semiconductor manufacturers started incorporating BARCs into their manufacturing workflows.

It wasn’t until the 1990s and early 2000s that BARCs gained widespread acceptance and became a standard component of semiconductor lithography processes. As semiconductor feature sizes continued to shrink, necessitating more advanced lithographic techniques, the importance of BARCs in minimizing reflections and improving patterning fidelity became even more pronounced.

A brief animated video illustrating how antireflective coatings enable smaller, faster, and more efficient technology.


VersaLayer System: Breaking New Ground

Now, let’s fast forward to the present day, when BrewerBOND® VersaLayer system emerges as the latest testament to Brewer Science’s commitment to innovation. What sets the VersaLayer system apart is the combination of two layers, a thermoplastic and thermoset layer, offering a myriad of advantages that surpass conventional materials for temporary bonding and debonding.


“One of the key advantages of the VersaLayer system is its unique composition,” explains Rama Puligadda, Chief Technology Officer at Brewer Science.  “By dividing functions between two layers, we can achieve an even higher thermal and chemical stability. Additionally, the versatility in debonding methods enables it to be suitable for both mechanical and laser debonding, ensuring it fits with a wide range of applications.


Unleashing the Potential: Technologies Benefiting from VersaLayer System

VersaLayer system is specifically designed for high-temperature and high-stress applications, making it a competitive choice for diverse applications, including:

High Bandwidth Memory (HBM)

VersaLayer system is crucial for high bandwidth memory (HBM) applications, providing the necessary support for stacking multiple memory dies to achieve higher data throughput and performance. The system ensures low stress and minimal warpage during bonding, which is essential for maintaining the integrity and alignment of stacked dies. This stability is critical for enabling the high-speed data transfer rates required by advanced computing and artificial intelligence (AI) systems. By improving the thermal management and structural integrity of HBM stacks, the VersaLayer system supports the efficient processing and handling of large data volumes, a cornerstone for the development and deployment of AI technologies.

3D integrated circuit (3DIC)

The VersaLayer system enhances 3DIC applications by serving as a barrier layer on interposers, protecting against moisture and mechanical stress. It also acts as a dielectric layer for through-silicon via (TSV) formation, insulating and planarizing the surface for reliable electrical connections. The VersaLayer system’s adhesive properties facilitate bonding and stacking of semiconductor dies, ensuring mechanical support and efficient heat dissipation. Its customizable thermal properties also aid in effective thermal management within the 3DIC package, contributing to the reliability and performance of integrated devices. Additionally, the VersaLayer system materials can be applied to single die-to-wafer 3DIC processing.


The VersaLayer system enhances power applications by providing improved thermal management and electrical insulation properties. As a barrier layer, the VersaLayer system protects power semiconductor devices from moisture, contaminants, and mechanical stress, ensuring long-term reliability and performance. Its customizable thermal properties enable efficient heat dissipation within power modules, reducing thermal resistance and enhancing device reliability. Moreover, the VersaLayer system’s dielectric properties insulate power components, minimizing electrical losses and signal interference.

MEMS and Sensors

The VersaLayer system enhances the performance and reliability of MEMS devices and sensors by providing a uniform and smooth surface for device fabrication. The VersaLayer system’s compatibility with MEMS processing techniques such as surface micromachining and bulk micromachining enables the development of high-performance sensors for automotive, aerospace, biomedical, and industrial applications.

Fan-Out Wafer-Level Packaging (FOWLP)

The VersaLayer system enhances FOWLP applications by providing improved adhesion, stress relief, and planarization properties on the package substrate. It serves as a barrier layer, protecting the substrate from moisture and contaminants during the packaging process. The VersaLayer system’s compatibility with various bonding processes ensures reliable assembly of semiconductor dies and redistribution layers (RDLs) with tight tolerances. Additionally, its thermal properties aid in efficient heat dissipation within the FOWLP package, enhancing device reliability and performance.


The VersaLayer system enhances III-V semiconductor applications by providing a versatile platform for improved device performance and reliability. As a barrier layer, the VersaLayer system protects III-V semiconductor materials from environmental factors such as moisture and oxidation, preserving their electrical and optical properties. Its compatibility with various deposition techniques enables precise control over film thickness and composition, facilitating the fabrication of high-quality III-V semiconductor layers. The VersaLayer system’s dielectric properties also serve as an insulating layer, minimizing leakage currents and enhancing device reliability.

The VersaLayer system is comprised of two BrewerBOND®materials. Together these two layers enable mechanical stability with no movement and provide in-process thermal stability ≤ 400°C.

BrewerBOND® T1100 series materials are a thermoplastic platform applied to the device as a conformal adhesive coating.

BrewerBOND® C1300 series materials are a curable layer applied to the carrier that provides high-flow, low-temperature, and low-pressure bonding with no melt flow post-cure.


VersaLayer Process Flow

Illustrated is a BrewerBOND® VersaLayer System Bonding System Typical Process Flow. Modification may be necessary for specific applications.


Continuous Collaboration is Necessary for Innovation

Through collaborative efforts, Brewer Science works closely with customers to identify opportunities for innovation and develop customized solutions that address their unique requirements. By fostering an environment of open communication and knowledge-sharing, Brewer Science and its customers co-create value and drive technological advancements together.

Brewer Science provides comprehensive technical support, training programs, and educational resources to help customers understand the benefits and applications of the VersaLayer system. Through ongoing coaching and education initiatives, Brewer Science empowers customers to overcome technical barriers, explore new possibilities, and unlock the full potential of the VersaLayer system in their respective industries.

By staying attentive to market trends, regulatory standards, and technological developments, Brewer Science ensures that VersaLayer system solutions align with industry best practices and emerging demands. Through proactive engagement with customers and industry stakeholders, Brewer Science anticipates evolving needs and tailors VersaLayer system offerings to deliver maximum value and relevance.

Embracing the future is inherent in Brewer Science’s commitment to developing materials that pave the way for technology advancements. By continuously investing in research and development, Brewer Science pushes the boundaries of innovation and explores new frontiers in materials science. The VersaLayer system represents a testament to Brewer Science’s forward-thinking approach, enabling customers to stay ahead of the curve and embrace emerging technologies with confidence.


Embracing Innovation with Confidence

The parallels between BARCs and the VersaLayer system underscore Brewer Science’s proactive approach to research and development, which has paved the way for transformative advancements in semiconductor technology. From the initial skepticism surrounding BARCs in the 1980s to the more recent industry hesitancy towards the VersaLayer system, Brewer Science has consistently demonstrated its commitment to innovation and collaboration.

Through collaboration with industry partners, Brewer Science has overcome challenges, guided customers towards innovative solutions, and balanced their preferences with industry requirements. This collaborative approach has led to the development of BARCs and the VersaLayer system, both representing transformative solutions impacting technology evolution.

BARCs enabled the next generation of semiconductor lithography, while the VersaLayer system continues to push the boundaries of materials science, enabling advancements in semiconductor manufacturing, advanced packaging, optoelectronics, and more. Brewer Science’s ongoing journey towards shaping the future of technology is characterized by its unwavering commitment to collaboration and persistence.


As Terry Brewer aptly puts it, “Innovation thrives on challenges. Through our partnership with customers and our unwavering commitment to pushing boundaries, we’re not just shaping tomorrow’s technology—we’re shaping the future.”

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