Semiconductor Pioneer Burn Lin Joins NTHU
Burn Lin’s work in the development of immersion lithographic technology changed the history of the semiconductor industry. Lin, formerly the vice president of research and development at the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), has recently joined to NTHU as a visiting professor. On his special appointment Lin stated that, in addition to imparting professional knowledge, he plans to teach students how to solve problems.
When Lin, widely regarded as a “national treasure”, retired from TSMC at the end of last year, many different universities were eager to recruit him as a faculty member. However, in the middle of last year NTHU had already offered Lin the Hou Jindui Professorship, and in the end he decided to join NTHU.
Lin said that his original retirement plan included only two activities: propagating the gospel and helping people to enjoy more prosperous lives. Afterwards, however, he realized that teaching is also a good way of helping people enjoy prosperity. As Lin put it, “During my 46 years in the semiconductor industry I learned a lot, and now I’d like to share that with the next generation. In addition to imparting professional knowledge, I hope to stimulate students' creativity, as well as their problem-solving and teamwork ability.”
"No matter what the problem is, you have to be prepared to adopt different approaches to solving it,” says Lin. In the past, semiconductor wafers were mainly manufactured using a dry exposure process, with air as the medium between the lens and the wafer, so that the figure on the transparent media adapter would form an image on the wafer. However, it proved very difficult to increase the resolution, which required shortening the wavelength of the light source from 193 nm to 157 nm. In order to solve this problem, Lin proposed using immersion lithography—replacing the air gap between the final lens and the wafer surface with a liquid medium that reduces the wavelength of light in water to 134 nm, making it possible to carve a more precise wafer. This innovation has had a major impact on the semiconductor industry.
Over the course of his long career, Lin has met many graduates of NTHU, whom he has found keen to learn and eager to conduct research. Yet he also realized that while at school they were so focused on their individual academic performance that they found it difficult to work cooperatively as part of a team after they started to work in the industry. Thus teamwork is something he plans to emphasize in his teaching.
Shawn Hsu, the director of the Department of Electrical Engineering, said that Lin is a leading figure in the developmental history of the semiconductor, and a pioneer in optical lithography. Thus NTHU is highly honored to have him join its faculty.
Huang Yen-chieh, the director of the Institute of Photonics Technologies, pointed out that, in addition to his important role in the semiconductor industry, Lin has also served as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Micro/nanolithography, MEMS, and MOEMS. Moreover, his deep practical experience and outstanding academic contributions make him a highly valuable addition to NTHU.
Since being appointed to the Institute of Photonics Technologies, Lin has conducted three academic workshops in which he discussed the lithography manufacturing process and the development of the photonics field. Lin said that he is highly interested in the research being conducted in the Institute of Photonics Technologies, and that he hopes to participate in some of its research projects.
During his 22 years at the IBM research center in the United States, Lin played a leading role in the research teams credited with various ground-breaking innovations, including lithography technologies at a resolution of 1.25 microns, 1 micron, 0.75 micron, 0.5 micron, and 0.35 micron. After leaving IBM Lin set up his own business in the United States and ran it for nearly 10 years. He joined TSMC in 2000, and in 2002 he began to develop immersion lithography, a technology which has had a major impact on the global semiconductor industry. At TSMC he led a research team which successively reduced lithography resolution from 130 nm, to 90 nm, 65 nm, 40 nm, 28 nm, 20 nm, 16 nm, 10 nm, 7 nm, and 5 nm.
Lin has received numerous honors and awards, including 10 IBM Invention Awards, and the IBM Outstanding Technical Contribution Award. In 2008 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In recognition of his pioneering work in immersion lithography, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) awarded him the Jun-ichi Nishizawa Medal in 2013, and the Cledo Brunetti Award in 2009. In 2013 he was elected a fellow of the Industrial Technology Research Institute. In 2008 he received the Ohio State University Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2004 he received the first Frits Zernike Award from the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE). In 2004 he received the Outstanding Research Award from the Pan Wenyuan Foundation. In 2003 he was elected fellow of IEEE as well as fellow of SPIE. And in 2014 he was elected fellow of Academia Sinica, the highest academic honor awarded in Taiwan.
Visiting Professor Burn Lin
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