Chilean startup qScire offers innovative solution for ensuring IC throughput reliability

Judy Lin, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Chilean startup qScire founders Claudio Arenas (R), Joaquin Figueroa (C)

qScire, a startup established by Chilean EDA engineers, has been selected as one of the honorary mentions of the Tech Innovation Excellence (TIE) Award at Taiwan InnoTech Expo 2022 held between October 13-15, 2022.

Their research partners include Taiwan's Industrial and Technology Research Institute (ITRI), Chilean Labs, and Applied Materials.

Their first product, Quantum Interconnect Explorer (QIE), is a software tool designed for fast and accurate interconnect resistance and capacitance analysis.

"It calculates the electrical resistance of wires in a chip with the run time of computation, so it is also able to analyze the dissipation of heat in the wires," said Co-founder Claudio Arenas, who derived the model of QIE from his doctoral thesis and expanded it for the use of the semiconductor industry. His paper was the cover of the Applied Physics Review published in March 2017.

Joaquin Figueroa, also a co-founder, explained that IMEC experimental data were used in a QIE analysis showing the copper resistance for multiple dimensions. The resistance value with the same parameters for 10 nanometers wire was highly accurate.

"Currently, the traditional approach adopted by the industry is to use models with a lot of parameters for estimating resistance. There are a lot of parameters of adjustment that need to be verified, which is very expensive. They get tools that calculate atom-by-atom simulations, but doing that for one micrometer long will take forever."

"We used the same parameters, but changed the cost structure while delivering experimental data that is not possible today with any of the other tools that others have," said Claudio Arenas, who further explained that multiple solutions offered on the market rely solely on numerical, heuristics, brute force and now, machine learning. "But the key to sustained success is in understanding the events under analysis. Our approach is to deliver software built from first principles of physics and experimentally validated."

As the semiconductor industry is working on 3D packaging and new materials for innovations, qScire's solution can be helpful. Figueroa said they are measuring 3D ICs using different techniques because the industry now is moving away from copper and testing new metal materials.

"We're very happy to be able to show how Chilean startups in Chile and innovation is actually reaching East Asia and Taiwan in particular." Chilean Trade Office in Taipei director Fernando Schmidt said, "We know Taiwan is the heart of the semiconductor industry. So to see a Chilean company working in an industry related to semiconductors and to have an honorary mention in an award in Taiwan is really encouraging as to where the Chilean innovation and startup ecosystem is moving."

Chile created a startup incubating program called "Startup Chile" over 10 years ago, and the ecosystem grew massively. The South American country with a population of 19 million already has 3 unicorns as of 2021.