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IBM First to Eliminate PFOS and PFOA in Chip Processes

IBMChipMfgIBM has met its goal to eliminate perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) compounds from its integrated chip (IC) manufacturing processes in 2010 as part of its design for the environment program, which includes  developing and using environmentally-preferable materials.

IBM eliminated PFOS and PFOA in its wet etch processes at the end of 2008, and eliminated them in its photolithography processes as of January 31, 2010, by working with its suppliers to develop alternative formulations. The semiconductor manufacturer claims it is the first in the industry to eliminate both compounds from its chip-making processes.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with other groups in the European Union and other countries, placed restrictions on the manufacture and use of these chemicals in consumer products, where they were commonly uses as a stain or water repellent, says IBM. These compounds are considered to be bioaccumulative, where they can gradually increase in concentration over time in the environment.

In January, the EPA took preliminary steps to set standards by 2013 or ban four types of chemicals including perfluorinated chemicals such as PFOAs over health and environmental concerns.

Although these compounds are still permitted for use in semiconductor manufacturing, the semiconductor industry has been working to eliminate these two compounds from chip-making processes for several years, says IBM.

In June last year, IBM launched its Green Sigma coalition, which leverages Lean Six Sigma principles and practices to help companies make better decisions about energy and water usage, waste and GHG emissions to improve efficiency, lower costs and reduce environmental impact.

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