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IBM Bans Wafer-Etching Acids

IBM Bans Wafer-Etching Acids

IBM plans to eliminate by the end of this year all internal uses of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoroooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).

These materials have been used for wafer patterning and etching processes, and are most commonly used as stain repellants. IBM's ban is "based on growing evidence of the persistent bioaccumulative and toxic properties," IBM states in its just-released Corporate Responsibility Report.

IBM is replacing PFOA and PFOS with next-generation, fluorine-free photolithography chemicals. The banned chemicals were eliminated last year from wet-etch processes in New York and Vermont plants.

IBM has issued corporate responsibility reports since 2002 to monitor its progress on environmental, supply chain and other goals. "Building a smarter planet isn't simply a recipe for economic growth; it's also a recipe for radically expanded economic and societal opportunity," says CEO Samuel J. Palmisano.

Voluntary materials prohibitions and restrictions by IBM date to 1978 when polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were banned. Use of polyvinyl chloride has been prohibited from system enclosure parts in new products after 2007. A full list of materials prohibitions follows:

Voluntary materials prohibitions and restrictions by IBM

Substance

Year

Comments

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

1978

Prohibited from use in products (Initiated phased approach for elimination in 1974. Achieved by year-end 1978.)

Trichloroethene

Late 1980s

Eliminated from use in development and manufacturing processes

Ozone depleting chemicals

1990

Prohibited as expansion agents used in packaging

Polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)

1990

Prohibited from use in packaging

Heavy metals, including lead (Pb), hexavalent chromium and mercury

1990

Prohibited from use in packaging

Class I ozone depleting chemicals

1993

Eliminated from use in development and manufacturing processes, and prohibited from use in products

Asbestos

1993

Prohibited from use in products

Polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)

1993

Prohibited from use in products

Lead (Pb)

1993

Prohibited from use in plastic housings and paints

Hexavalent chromium

1993

Prohibited in inks, dyes, pigments and paints used for IBM products

Mercury

1993

Prohibited from use in IBM parts or assemblies. Specific exemptions (e.g., lamps) were added in 1999.

Cadmium

1993

Prohibited from use in inks, dyes, pigments and paints

Cadmium

1994

Prohibited from use in plastics and plating

Class II ozone depleting chemicals

1995

Eliminated from use in development and manufacturing processes, and prohibited from use in products

Ethylene-based glycol ethers

Mid-1990s

Eliminated from use in development and manufacturing processes

Polyvinyl chloride

Mid-1990s

Prohibited from use in packaging

Cadmium

Mid-1990s

Prohibited from use:

  • cadmium sulfide for phosphorescence in CRT monitors
  • nickel cadmium batteries in notebook computers

Lead (Pb)

1999

Prohibited from use in plastic resins

Tetrachloroethene

2002

Eliminated 99.5% of the use in development and manufacturing processes. Prohibited from new applications.

Hexavalent chromium

2002

Prohibited from plastic resins

Dichloromethane

2003

Eliminated from use in development and manufacturing processes

Polyvinyl chloride

2007

Prohibited from system enclosure parts in new products after 2007

Tetrabromobisphenol A

2007

Prohibited as an additive flame retardant in system enclosure parts for new products after 2007

Specific perfluorinated compounds (PFOS and PFOA)

2007

Prohibited from new IBM manufacturing, development and research processes; prohibited from any known application in existing processes after December 31, 2009

 Chemicals used in microelectronics manufacturing create a biohazard.

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