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Apple partners with imec to cut IC tech’s carbon footprint

Integrated circuit (IC) technology is an integral part of today’s digital lifestyles. Machine learning, cloud computing, the Internet of Things… Many cutting-edge innovations couldn’t exist without it. But even for numerous ‘everyday’ objects, such as cars and smartphones, IC tech is key. One of Flanders’ strategic research centersimec – is the world’s leading authority in this field. So much so that even tech giant Apple is now partnering up with imec in a joint research program.

Flanders' strategic research center for digital and nanotech: imec

Reduced ecological footprint across the IC value chain

Specifically, the American juggernaut firm is joining a research program called Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies & Systems (SSTS). This is imec’s first initiative to gather stakeholders from across the IC value chain in order to anticipate the environmental impact of choices made at chip technology’s definition phase.

Using concrete and reliable models, as well as detailed (carbon) footprint analyses, the program will help the IC-making industry reduce its ecological footprint. Needless to say, this ambition fits in with the global fight against climate change, resource depletion, and pollution.

Positive snowball effect

“While many systems companies are carbon neutral today when it comes to their corporate footprints, they express the ambition to have their entire carbon footprint to net-zero by 2030,” comments imec CEO Luc Van den hove. “These companies are very committed to achieving that goal, but often lack the data to decipher the IC aspects end-to-end. That’s where imec comes in. We have that data. And we’re ready to support the industry with insights, tools, instruments, and figures.”

“Companies realize that to become carbon neutral, their whole supply chain needs to follow suit. That’s the positive snowball effect we seek to create – together with Apple – today. Our message to the whole semiconductor value chain: don’t be a bystander, but unite as one to cut back the industry’s ecological footprint.”
Luc Van den hove, CEO of imec

Holistic to the core

A holistic approach to reducing the IC-manufacturing industry’s emissions is more than welcome. Research has shown, for instance, that close to 75% of a mobile device’s CO2emissions can be attributed to its fabrication. And almost half of that comes from the underlying IC manufacturing.

Clearly, by joining forces across the value chain, the IC industry can achieve excellent results in terms of cutting ecological footprints. “That’s exactly why imec is launching its SSTS research program,” says Luc Van den hove.

“The research program draws on imec’s widely acclaimed fab expertise and unites our insights in infrastructure, technology, and machinery to help the entire IC value chain reduce its ecological footprint. Our aim? To inform partners of the environmental impact of certain choices made at chip technology’s definition phase. This holistic view is what sets our SSTS program apart.”
Luc Van den hove, CEO of imec

Discover more about Flanders’ innovative take on nanotech and digital innovation.

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Reported by
Press release imec
8 December 2021

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