Nanoelectronics relies on multiple semiconductor processes that require patterning of objects such as silicon wafers at the nano-scale level. Semiconductor manufacturers have developed advanced technologies that offer unprecedented control of the properties of the finished product in large volumes. The rapid pace of progress in semiconductor manufacturing also introduces a variety of novel nano-structured materials.
There may be, however, still a limited understanding of the hazardous properties such materials may have. To fill the knowledge gaps, the NANOSTREEM project was created.
On request of the NANOSTREEM project consortium, the European Semiconductor Industry Association (ESIA) has agreed to host the training material deliverables below. The information contained in the material reflects the outcome of the project and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ESIA.
The NANOSTREEM project has taken up the challenge in defining a safety roadmap of nanomaterials in nanoelectronics: existing knowledge gaps on the potential risk of nanomaterials are identified and a number of recommendations for their mitigation are put forward.
The project was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research & innovation programme.
Running for 36 months from January 2016 to the end of 2018, the project consortium includes 14 partners from six European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands. It combines the expertise of industry, research organisations in material science, toxicology, environmental assessments, and occupational medicine, providing a critical mass for a coordinated action on a European scale.
NANOSTREEM aimed at better understanding the occupational hazards related to the use of nanomaterials and improving the assessment of the potential impact of nanomaterials on workers and the environment during semiconductor fabrication. International cooperation in areas of standardisation with the United States and Asia was intensified, and information was shared with other industries that face similar issues in understanding properties and controlling nano-hazards.
Below, you can watch the video of the April 2018 NANOSTREEM workshop on governance:
The final outcomes of the project are highlighted in an online webinar.
As companies seek to further improve the performance of their devices to meet increasing demand, the semiconductor industry uses a growing variety of materials. There are currently more than 200 chemical compounds present in most computer and mobile phone chips, consisting of elements such as silicon, germanium, copper, and gold.
It is important to understand the properties of these materials and how they behave in living systems as the human body to face the challenges they may pose in terms of occupational and environmental risks. This is common for many technology-intensive sectors and it requires a systematic risk-reduction approach.
To meet the need for developing competences about:
- the physicochemical properties of nanomaterials, and
- the limitations of the traditional occupational chemical risk assessment,
…as well as for establishing:
- a dedicated nanotoxicology knowledge base,
…the NANOSTREEM project composed nanosafety training packages as one of its major outcomes.
Consortium partners Tyndall, CEA and imec composed three dedicated training courses focusing on semiconductor industry processes and the clean room environment.
Interested professionals can request the training course materials free-of-charge. For the terms & conditions, please find more information on the request below.
Course #1: Introduction to nanomaterials in nanoelectronics
This is an induction training package for technical personnel, more precisely for first-time users with no prior experience in nanomaterials. The aim of the package is to increase awareness about the general properties of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) and use of ENMs in semiconductor processes, such as the chemical mechanical planarisation (CMP) processes.
Learning objectives for the introductory training course are:
- to give an overview of hazards & risks associated with nanomaterials,
- to provide basic knowledge about nanomaterials, their properties, and general applications, and
- to give an overview of available protective / preventive measures for risk mitigation.
The training package was designed for operators and maintenance staff working in the semiconductor sector. It is assumed that the recipients of the training have no prior experience of working with nanomaterials.
The specific emphasis on semiconductor process safety makes this training package unique and different from other nanosafety-related packages already developed by other projects, which cover a wide range of sectors and applications and are, therefore, less specific in terms of their safety policies recommendations.
- Societal & regulatory issues
- Properties of ENMs
- Primer on toxicology
- Risk assessment
- Focus on the semiconductor industry
- Future materials for information & communications technology (ICT)
- General principles of risk prevention
- Reduction of potential exposure
- Collective protection
- Personal protection
- Operational control
- Environmental release & fate
Course #2: How can we perform a risk assessment of operations involving ENMs?
NANOSTREEM’s second training course is addressing safety professionals and shall aid in their formative education concerning the properties of nanomaterials and available risk-assessment methodologies.
At present, there are significant information gaps about properties of nanomaterials and they preclude the typical chemical safety risk-assessment methodologies to be applied. Available public information is focused only on a very limited set of materials, while the safety data sheets fail to convey the information necessary to conduct a risk assessment. Hence, the course is aimed at safety professionals having experience in chemical safety or semiconductor process safety:
- to increase awareness about the properties of ENMs, and
- to that have an impact on safety assessments.
Among the unique properties of ENMs, we see that their toxic effects depend on the size & shape of the nanoparticle, not to the unit’s mass. Hence, the toxic effects can substantially be modified by means of applied surface functionalisation. The current expert opinion, therefore, agrees that conventional risk-assessment tools have limited applicability to nanomaterials or nanoforms.
NANOSTREEM produced detailed guidance for risk assessment, and industrial project partners evaluated its applicability. The consortium has encountered several substantial gaps that impede recommended risk-assessment tools, which is why a three-tiered risk-assessment approach was developed. The training is based on the standards ISO TR 12802-2 and ISO/TS 12901-2:2014. It exemplifies the NANOSTREEM approach and discusses measurement tools for airborne nanoparticle emissions as a relevant use case.
- Morphology of ENM & physicochemical properties
- Regulatory frameworks
- Data gaps in nanosafety
- Elements of the risk assessment
- Emission measurement tools
- Risk banding approaches
- The NANOSTREEEM tiered risk-assessment framework
- Emission measurement strategies
Course #3: Train the trainer
NANOSTREEM’s third training course consists of a user guide aimed at helping safety professionals in the delivery of the developed training course materials. Course #3 was developed to give complementary background information context as well as provide a detailed narrative for the materials assembled in Course #1 and Course #2.
The need for this additional training course was associated to the new content of the previous packages. Its development reflects the gaps that persisted in traditional chemical risk assessment processes, whose tools did not take the characteristics of ENMs into account and complicated the conduct of appropriate risk assessments.
Requesting training packages
Interested professionals can request the training course materials free-of-charge and use them under Creative Commons with attribution and no derivative works. This means that the licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works and remixes based on it.
In academic works please cite
D Prodanov, et al., Three-Tiered Risk Assessment for Engineered Nanomaterials. A Use Case for the Semiconductor Industry, Journal of Physics: Conference Series 1323 (1), 012010, 2019, doi:10.1088/1742-6596/1323/1/012010
You can request the training courses via this link:
By requesting the training course materials, you agree to the terms & conditions of the Creative Commons license.