Advanced materials and chemicals are the basis of most new products and technologies. The advances seen in these materials create the capabilities that are desired
and designed by researchers. Nowhere is this more true than in
the semiconductor and solid-state industry. New deposition and
etching processes are constantly evolving for materials whose
properties change as they are layered in ever thinner films. And
that’s where the real challenges appear when non-visible and
ill-placed defects can destroy the performance, operation and
production yields of semiconductor devices.
Applied Materials, one of the leading developers of the
equipment for fabricating these devices recently announced
plans for their Materials Engineering Technology Accelerator
(META) Center. The center is an expansion of the company’s
R&D capabilities aimed at creating new ways to drive innovation as classic Moore’s Law scaling becomes more challenging.
The primary goal of the center is to provide new materials and
processes that enable future breakthroughs in device performance, power and costs. This first of its kind research center
will be located at the State University of New York Polytechnic
Institute in Albany, New York.
A multitude of polymer-based materials are also being developed for a wide range of applications. Dow recently won several
R&D 100 Awards at R&D Magazine’s 2018 Awards event. The
strong materials developed for these products include a cool
coating for bedding materials; a silicone-based adhesive for
Advanced Materials & Chemicals
printed circuit board assemblies; a sustainable textile treatment
for brighter colors; a polyolefin elastomer for photovoltaics; a
stronger biaxially orientable polyethylene; and a downhole (for
oil drilling systems) radium sequestration material.
Germany’s Merck KGaA also recently announced that it was
collaborating with China’s Visionox Technology to accelerate
the development of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs)
in China. This development expands on Merck’s materials
R&D operations in China, which have been in place for more
than five years. Merck has a wide range of technology services
in China, including manufacturing, supply
chain, quality, R&D, sales, technical service
and after-market support.
China itself is one of the strongest global
developers of new materials and technologies.
It is already the leading publisher of advanced
materials technology papers, exceeding that of
all other countries by a wide margin.
With its large manufacturing base, China is
also the world’s largest market for chemicals,
requiring all producers to provide extensive
technical support to the region. BASF, for
example, has a global center of excellence
for advanced materials and system research
in Shanghai and nowhere else in the world.
Two examples of BASF materials markets are
in flame retardants and polyurethane-based
materials used in sport shoe soles. Historically,
BASF conducted all of its R&D at its giant
complex in Ludwigshafen, Germany.
Companies that think through their China
R&D and support strategies generally move
their decision-makers to China. Germany’s
Wacker Chemie, for example, has two manufacturing plants in China and created an R&D
facility in Shanghai to support them.
Industrial R&D Spenders - Advanced
Materials & Chemicals (Billions USD)
2017 2018 2019
BayerAG 5.415 5.743 6.083
DowDuPont 2.110 2.263 2.448
BASF 2.270 2.268 2.267
3M 1.850 1.879 1.913
Monsanto 1.584 1.556 1.528
Total 13.229 13.709 14.239
Source: R&D Magazine Survey 2018
Advanced Materials & Chemicals
Industry R&D Spending
11. 3 11. 5 10. 8
2017 Global 2017 U.S. 2018 Global 2018 U.S. 2019 Global 2019 U.S.