SpotLight: Materials Research for Microelectronics in Leoben

The event „Materials Research for Microelectronics” (in original „Materialforschung für die Mikroelektronik in Leoben“) organized in cooperation with the microelectronic cluster “Silicon Alps” took place on 17.05.2018 at the “Impulse Center Materials” in Leoben. It was hosted by the University of Leoben (“Montanuniversität Leoben“), the Erich Schmid Institute of the Austrian Academy of Science, the Polymer Competence Center Leoben (PCCL) and the Materials Center Leoben (MCL).

About 70 guests from academia and industry followed presentations and posters and participated in discussions. It was demonstrated how the material research in all material classes following the value chain for electronic-based systems leads to innovation in components and systems. The focus here was on flexible substrates, new sensory and optical properties and, in general, the design for increasing reliability. The close cooperation between the individual research facilities in Leoben enables the formation of multidisciplinary research teams for the design and synthesis of new materials, innovative manufacturing processes and the design and test of systems. This all together is enabled by the integrated computer-aided simulation and analytics of materials, processes and devices.


  • Opening speech by the Chancellor of Montanuniversität Leoben (MUL) Prof. Dr. Winfinfried Eichlseder: After a short introduction on the MUL and the offered studies, the speech highlighted that more than 600 researches are working in the field of Materials Science in Leoben. Their in-depth insights run from the raw materials over processing to the final product and back to raw materials in all classes (a circular economics perspective). In the last part of the opening, Magn. Eichlseder emphasized the special importance of the field „Materials for Microelectronics“, where currently about 100 researchers are performing applied and basic research in all material classes from the atom-molecule level to the device level, using world class analytic, test and simulation infrastructure.
  • Dr. Günther Maier, Head of Department Microelectronics at MCL: In the first part a detailed overview of the involved organizational units in Leoben and an insight on the cooperation portfolio were presented. The second part showed how materials research has enabled innovation in electronic based systems on the basis of success stories of bundled competences of participating institutions. These are often made possible by a strong interaction between simulation and analytical techniques. This strong interlink between simulation and analytics is considered a key factor for the full digitalization of materials, processes and products including subsystems and devices.
  • Dr. Megan Cordill, Erich Schmid Institute (ESI) of Austrian Academy of Science: After a detailed overview of the ESI and an explanation of the link between ESI and Department of Materials Physics from MUL the presentation focused on the analysis and tests of conductive layers on polymeric, flexible materials. Examples for mechanical and thermic fatigue tests coupled with electrical and structural characterization across all scales were shown. Special emphasis was laid on the explanation of how interfaces contribute to the reliability of flexible electronics. One special highlight was the presentation of „FLEXOTEST“ device, which allows for a fast and accurate testing of lifetime.
  • Dr. Marco Deluca, Materials Center Leoben: The matter of how the use of nano-materials innovates the application of highly functional gas sensors systems was covered in the presentation of Dr. Deluca. Starting with the basic principles of electrochemical sensors he illustrated and explained why different types of nano-materials should be used in chemical sensors. The heterogeneous material integration on sensor platforms produced by CMOS processes allowed for the design and test of an integrated multi-sensor system. To enhance its sensitivity and selectivity, classifiers and algorithms are developed. Finally, Dr. Deluca showed how rigorous 3D integration of sensors on a sensor platform chip enabled an international consortium for the fabrication of a worldwide unique sensor system with 57 sensors on one chip.
  • Prof. Dr. Christian Mitterer, Montanuniversiät Leoben: Prof. Mitterer introduced the capabilities and research portfolio on the Department Physical Metallurgy and Materials Testing with a special emphasis on vacuum deposition, simulation and characterization techniques. In the second part he focused on special barrier coatings to prevent Cu diffusion into silicon substrates. He pointed out that the key influencing parameters for diffusion like micro-structure and stress can be tailored by the design of processes. This was followed by a success story of the combined material and process design for flexible electronics. By means of this methodology it was possible to develop and produce coatings which are securely bendable with a radius of 3mm. These coatings allow for a completely new field of applications in IC, RFID and displays.
  • Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kern, Polymer Competence Center Leoben and Montanuniversität Leoben: Prof. Kern introduced the PCCL and the Institute of Chemistry of Polymers (MUL). He highlighted the broad applications of polymers in electronics and in electronics industry. Starting with an example of the use of nano-composites as reliable dielectric with high thermal conductivity he discussed the use of composites as conductive printable layers. Printed electrical layers on paper pave the way towards disposable electronic devices. The use of simulation and testing was highlighted on an example on printed circuit boards, where it was demonstrated that multi-scale simulations enable design tools for large and complex systems.

Poster highlights: The 20 posters presented covered various aspects from computer aided materials design on atomic scale to applications near reliability testing. The common aim of all posters was to explain and show how material science enables innovations. The examples included sensors, printable electronics, fabrication by deposition, ceramic electronic, optical films, and reliability analysis of components and systems. One section was especially dedicated to available numerical and analytical methods.

There was plenty of time for good discussions and networking, both extensively performed in a wonderful location with panoramic view to the mountains and the city of Leoben.

We warmly thank the organisators, speakers and the attendees to the event!


To the overview presentation