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Preface September 2017

Each month our CEO reflects on the events in his (professional) life and discusses some of the articles featured in this month’s magazine issue.

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A touch of ‘magic’

In July I always go to San Francisco, to attend the Semicon West conference and – the day before – the USA edition of our imec technology forum. During ITF USA several of our imec colleagues presented the latest advancements in their research domain, ranging from memory technology to machine learning.

One of the speakers was Zsolt Tokei, our expert in interconnect technology. He tackled the question ‘How to solve the back-end-of-line RC dilemma?’. In this magazine issue, we have also included an article on this topic.

An Steegen was also one of the speakers. In her presentation ‘Nanotechnology creating magic’ she showed how electronics, integrated in a variety of objects, are the basis of our smart, connected society. They compute, store, connect, sense, actuate and power our daily lives and support improvements in healthcare, autonomous vehicles and sustainable energy.

A very specific kind of ‘nanotechnology magic’ that was mentioned in her presentation – and that is also discussed in this imec magazine issue – is the vertical nanowire transistor. With this unique transistor structure we can build really small, powerful and reliable memory chips. An important breakthrough if you consider how we store and use more and more data. That being said, this probably won’t be the mainstream transistor architecture in the future because we’re heading towards a ‘hybrid’ era.

"One system will probably consist of different kinds of transistors, depending on their specific function in the system."

But back to San Francisco! A wonderful city with beautiful architecture and museums. A lovely city to wander through. My family – that likes to accompany me on this trip – even managed to walk 36 kilometers in just one day. I have to admit that we are a real ‘walking’ family and since the advance of smartwatches we like to quantify our ‘performances’.

Smartwatches and fitness trackers really do have a motivating effect. I use it to monitor the number of steps I take, the hours of sleep I get and – perhaps a less healthy habit – to check my emails and text messages. But here at imec we’re working on the next big thing.

"In the future, we won’t have to wear smartwatches or fitness trackers anymore to monitor our health. We’ll be able to do this by simply lying on the coach."

How this is possible, you can discover in the article by Chris Van Hoof and Tom Torfs.

And while you’re on the coach (for your health check obviously) you might as well watch some TV. Chances are that you’ll use imec technology while doing so. Ever heard of Spott? This app gives TV shows an extra dimension. It shows you where to buy your favorite character’s clothing and – more interesting from my perspective – which top appliances the Top Chef is using.

From nanowire transistors to TV apps. In this month’s magazine issue, you’ll find a broad range of topics to discover.

Have fun reading!

 

Luc Van den hove,
President and CEO of imec

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