Semiconductor technology has gone through a breath-taking development during the last 20 years. The origin of this development was the introduction of integrated circuits (IC) which combine multiple microelectronic devices on a single piece of silicon. Meanwhile, design and manufacturing of integrated circuits have been developed to levels which allow the production of circuits including millions of devices at low costs.
The ongoing miniaturization has lead to extremely sophisticated products and systems which are widely accepted throughout the society. At the moment of this writing people are using their personal computers to communicate with each other all around the world via the Internet. Still there is a lot of momentum in this development, and its effects on our society and the associated economy cannot be foreseen. Progress is taking place at an unprecedented pace.
This development has been fueled by advances in the manufacturing area, by new materials, by new ideas of creative individuals, and by Computer Aided Design (CAD). As computer equipment makes its progress, it increasingly contributes to advances in the design and the manufacturing of integrated electronic circuits. A hierarchy of CAD tools is assisting research and development engineers in their effort to search for improved technologies and devices. Electronics CAD (ECAD) allows designers of integrated circuits to create simulation models of their circuits and, therefore, reduces the demand for test chips. Whereas Technology CAD (TCAD) can be utilized to create models of electronic devices, as they are used by ECAD.
TCAD enables an engineer to derive models of electronic devices from the recipe of their fabrication process, and from their lithography masks. Moreover, process development engineers are able to use TCAD as a model of their fabrication process and can therefore substitute simulations for wafer runs in the fabrication facility. In some cases, TCAD gives an engineer insights which would be extremely difficult to obtain in real world, and, therefore, shapes an engineer's understanding of a technology. This comes at relative low costs compared to the costs of split-run experiments at the fabrication line.