Age: "Fifty is Nifty!"
Job: Independent Consultant at B2W Consulting
Expertise: Lithography, Resolution Enhancement Technologies (RET), marketing, and management for semiconductors
Career Influences: I would go back all the way to SPIE's Microlithography Symposium (now the SPIE Advanced Lithography Symposium) in 1986 in Santa Clara, CA. The semiconductor/lithography industry had clearly taken the step away from projection aligners to reduction steppers, and now the roadmap for sub-micron needed to be explored. In one of the sessions, new potential light sources were being discussed, and for the first time the term 'excited dimers' came up.
Fast forward 20 years, and we are now using 193 nm ArF lasers at close to 100W with repetition rates of 6kHz. And we are, of course, printing 32nm features, meaning that the wavelength is 6 times larger than the most critical feature. The rate of progress in the semiconductor industry - and especially in lithography -- is unrivaled. It just keeps pulling you in.
Most Difficult Career Step: After 20 years in the industry, leaving a secure environment in a large sized company (Cadence Design Systems, more than $1 billion annual revenues) for a small startup (25-person Invarium) in November 2006. Invarium was then bought by Cadence in July 2007.
Most Successful Career Step: Managing Invarium as a small startup and having a successful exit strategy. (See "most difficult" above.)
Easiest Step: Transitioning from the European LSI Logic team into the U.S. management team in California. Silicon Valley was, and to a large degree still is the development center in the semiconductor industry. If you wanted to be in the middle of that 20 years ago, Santa Clara was the place to be.
Current Innovations in Semiconductors: Renewable Energy Resources (RES). I have worked in the field of Resolution Enhancement Technologies (RET) for the better part of the past 10 years now, but we will see a huge influence from RES in the future. Take, for instance, one of the most influential companies that I have worked for in the semiconductor industry, Applied Materials. Applied is re-inventing itself as a solar/photovoltaic power company and is actually quite successful at it. At the last SEMICON, I counted 14 companies on the floor, mostly European, that were getting involved in solar energy. Watch that jump to 100-plus this year.
Steps to Keep on Top of Developments in the Field: Conferences and networking. Both go hand-in-hand, and the exposure at any of the leading conferences (through publishing papers), and peer interaction and recognition is extremely important.
Before Taking a Career Risk: Make sure you fully evaluate the new company and the position you are taking. Be conservative in your choices. The grass is always greener on the other side. And take some time off between jobs; you can never buy back time!
Next Career Step: The environment--the threat of global warming and its overwhelming impact on humanity--is very important to me at this time. I hope I can contribute and apply my skills in that field.
Profile of Wolfgang Staud submitted February 2008.