five-year charter, SEMATECH is expected to reach its goal of producing memory chips with 0.35-micron circuitry at its pilot fabrication plant in Austin, Texas, using equipment from domestic U.S. suppliers. One speaker predicted that with SEMATECH's contributions, U.S. semiconductor manufacturers and their suppliers will reach parity with the Japanese in equipment and some processes by 1993. Some participants argued that the United States should have firms capable of producing world-class quality equipment for each stage in the semiconductor manufacturing process: lithography, furnaces and implantation, etching, planarization, and deposition.

Some participants at the workshop reported that semiconductor manufacturers are benefiting from the consortium's programs. For example, two firms have used technical information from SEMATECH's pilot fabrication facility to guide planning of new manufacturing plants. Other participants have used SEMATECH's technical expertise to guide the purchase of new equipment. Workshop participants discussed plans for SEMATECH after 1993, when its initial five-year authorization ends. Some suggested that current SEMATECH programs could be extended to new areas of manufacturing. One such possibility, a participant noted, is "clean sheet" designs for factories built to manufacture the next generation of high-density memory and logic chips. SEMATECH might also be used to compare the advantages of costly, large-scale production facilities with the benefits that might be achieved from small fabrication plants.

Government-Sponsored R&D Collaboration in Other Countries

Government-led collaborative R&D efforts in other nations have received significant attention.32 Collaborative programs in Europe were discussed at the workshop. The changing nature of Japan's collaborative R&D programs was also discussed, as programs that initially focused on applied R&D projects increasingly emphasize basic science and engineering.33

The European Community

The long-term research programs jointly sponsored by the governments and businesses of the European Community (EC) are an expression of Europe's emphasis on new technology.34 According to one participant, these R&D projects also reflect the recognition that technology development requires substantial economic support, that the scale of the required efforts often outstrips the capacities of individual companies and nations, and that the globalization of technology shortens technical advantages. Many European firms view collaborative R&D as a way to achieve a competitive edge. This widely held perception distinguishes European companies from their American counterparts, which are more likely to pursue individual R&D initiatives exclusively with internal resources.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement