Top Three European Semiconductor Manufacturers Announce Initiative to Eliminate Lead from Semiconductor Products - Infineon Technologies, Philips Semiconductors and STMicroelectronics propose standard for defining and evaluating lead-free semiconductor devices

Jul 12, 2001 | Business & Financial Press

Munich, Germany, Eindhoven, Netherlands and Geneva, Switzerland, July 12, 2001 - In a move aimed at accelerating the use of ‘lead-free’ packages and stimulating the further development of ‘lead-free’ technologies, Infineon Technologies (NYSE/FSE: IFX), Philips Semiconductors (NYSE: PHG, AEX:PHI), and STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM) – Europe’s three largest semiconductor manufacturers – today unveiled their proposal for the world’s first standard for defining and evaluating ‘lead-free’ semiconductor devices.

The initiative shows the three companies’ commitment to work towards the elimination of lead (Pb) in electronic systems to improve environmental protection, e.g. in recycling or disposal processes of electronic devices. Starting in February 2001, the three companies have developed the proposed standard, which provides a common definition of ‘lead-free’ and assesses factors such as solderability and reliability of alternative materials.

Lead in Semiconductor Products

Lead, along with tin, is a critical component of the solder traditionally used for printed circuit board assembly. It is also widely used in semiconductor packaging, for example, as a coating on the leads of packages, in power IC packages as the die attach and for the balls of Ball Grid Array (BGA) packages.

Lead is often found in nature in association with other metals, with the result that removing all traces of lead from the metals that are used in ‘lead-free’ solders is not economically viable or might even be harmful to the environment.

The Demand for International Standards

One of the major barriers against eliminating the use of lead in the industry has been a lack of internationally agreed standards and methodologies for evaluating the quality and reliability of ‘lead-free’ technologies. In contrast, single lead-tin alloy has been used for many decades and standard procedures are used worldwide to evaluate its quality and long-term reliability.

“Many different kinds of ‘lead-free’ solder alloys and soldering processes are being investigated or developed around the world, using multiple combinations of elements like tin, silver, copper, bismuth, indium and zinc, all of which require increased temperature profiles relative to the well known tin-lead alloys during the soldering process,” said Carlo Cognetti, Vice President for New Package Development at STMicroelectronics. “To accelerate the transition to ‘lead-free’ technology, the electronics industry needs a common approach to quantifying solderability, heat resistance and other issues that affect reliability.”

“At present, there is not even an internationally agreed definition of the maximum amount of lead that can be allowed in a ‘lead-free’ component or process,” said Dr. Wolfgang Bloch, Head of Environment Protection and Safety Management at Infineon Technologies. “The market is confused because there are no rules or standards so far for evaluating alternative technologies. What we are doing is proposing some key ground rules that will help accelerate progress. Our initiative shows the inevitable transition to ‘green’ assembly on a global scale.”

“Europe has taken the lead in proposing the world's first legislation to eliminate lead from electronic equipment and components,” said Leo Klerks, Environmental Officer at Philips Semiconductors. “Our three companies’ interest in using lead-free soldering technologies has partly been fuelled by legislative restrictions from the European Commission. Effective from 1 January 2006, materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium and others will be forbidden in electrical and electronic devices. By sharing our knowledge and enthusiasm, Europe’s leading semiconductor manufacturers can make huge steps towards meeting this goal.”

Implementation and Availability of ‘Lead-free’ Components

The three companies will be able to introduce their ‘lead-free’ products far in advance to the legislative deadlines. Fully qualified ‘lead-free’ components will be available by the end of this year. The proposal of Infineon, Philips and STMicroelectronics contains an upper limit for ‘lead-free’ components of 0.1 percent related to the individual material, not to the whole package or component. The ‘lead-free’ products give at least their European clients a certainty to be ‘green’ in time.

Following detailed discussions of their individual aims and approaches, the three companies intend to continue their co-operation on standards and evaluation while pursuing their individual research programs to find the most economically and technologically effective ways to remove lead from the electronics industry.

About Infineon Technologies

Infineon Technologies AG, Munich, Germany, offers semiconductor and system solutions for applications in the wired and wireless communications markets, for security systems and smartcards, for the automotive and industrial sectors, as well as memory products. With a global presence, Infineon operates in the US from San Jose, CA, in the Asia-Pacific region from Singapore and in Japan from Tokyo. In the fiscal year 2000 (ending September), the company achieved sales of Euro 7.28 billion with about 29,000 employees worldwide. Infineon is listed on the DAX index of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: IFX). Further information is available at

About Philips Semiconductors

Philips Semiconductors, which had annual revenues of approximately US$6.3 billion in 2000, designs and manufactures semiconductors and silicon systems platforms. Philips Semiconductors is spearheading the emerging field of systems on silicon solutions with the innovative Nexperia™ platform and VLSI Velocity™ tool set. The company’s Sea-of-IP™ design methodology allows plug and play intellectual property blocks for easily customizable products. The company is a leader in communications, consumer, PC peripherals and automotive semiconductors, which are key applications for convergence in end-user products. Philips Semiconductors is headquartered in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and has operations throughout the world. For more information:

About STMicroelectronics

STMicroelectronics (formerly SGS-THOMSON Microelectronics) is a global independent semiconductor company, whose shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, on Euronext Paris and on the Milan Stock Exchange. The Company designs, develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of semiconductor integrated circuits (ICs) and discrete devices used in a wide variety of microelectronic applications, including telecommunications systems, computer systems, consumer products, automotive products and industrial automation and control systems. In 2000, the Company’s net revenues were $7,813.2 million and net earnings were $1,452.1 million. According to Dataquest’s annual ranking for 2000, STMicroelectronics is the sixth largest semiconductor company in the world. ST has won numerous international awards for its environmental initiatives and has publicly committed to achieving zero net emission of carbon dioxide by 2010. Further information on ST can be found at

Contacts at STMicroelectronics

Press Relations Corporate
Maria Grazia Prestini
Tel.: +33 4 50 40 25 32 Fax: +33 4 50 40 25 40

Press Relations US:
Michael Markowitz
Tel: +1 212 821 8959 Fax: +1 212 821 8922

Contacts at Philips Semiconductors

Chloe Shannon, Warman & Bannister
Tel. +44 1223 314545

Marla Dierkes, Ketchum
Tel. +1 650-622-3209

Mitsuyo Matsumoto
Tel. +81 3 3740 5818

Robyn Kao
Tel. +886 2 2134 2968

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