|Born||1958 (age 58–59)|
|Residence||Medway, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|Alma mater||University of New Orleans, University of Wisconsin-Madison|
|Awards||ACS Heroes of Chemistry 2014, Perkin Medal 2016|
|Doctoral advisor||Robert West|
Peter Trefonas (born 1958) is a corporate fellow (a senior scientist) at The Dow Chemical Company, where he works on the development of electronic materials. He is known for innovations in the chemistry of photolithography, particularly the development of anti-reflective coatings and polymer photoresists that are used to create circuitry for computer chips. This work has supported the patterning of smaller features during the lithographic process, increasing miniaturization and microprocessor speed.
Peter Trefonas is a son of Louis Marco Trefonas, also a chemist, and Gail Thames.He was inspired by Star Trek and the writings of Isaac Asimov, and created his own chemistry lab at home. Trefonas attended the University of New Orleans, receiving his Bachelor of Science in chemistry in 1980.
While an undergraduate, Trefonas earned money by writing early computer games for personal computers. These included Worm, the first version of Snake to be written for a personal computer, and a clone of Hustle. Both were based on the Blockade arcade game.Trefonas also wrote a game based on Dungeons and Dragons.
Trefonas studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with Robert West,completing a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry in late 1984. Trefonas became interested in electronic materials after working with West and chip makers from IBM to create organosilicon bilayer photoresists. His thesis topic was Synthesis, properties and chemistry of organosilane and organogermane high polymers (1985).
Trefonas joined MEMC Electronic Materials in late 1984. In 1986, he and others co-founded Aspect Systems Inc., utilizing photolithography technology acquired from MEMC.Trefonas worked at Aspect from 1986-1989. Then, through a succession of company acquisitions, he moved to Shipley Company (1990-2000), Rohm and Haas (1997-2008), and finally to The Dow Chemical Company (2008-).
Trefonas has published at least 110 journal articles and technical publications. He has received 88 American patents, and has more than 25 active patent applications pending.
Throughout his career, Trefonas has focused on materials science and the chemistry of photolithography. By understanding the chemistry of photoresists used in lithography, he has been able to develop anti-reflective coatings and polymer photoresists that support finely-tuned etching used in the production of integrated circuits. These materials and techniques make it possible to fit more circuits into a given area. nm deep.Over time, lithographic technologies have developed to allow lithography to use smaller wavelengths of light. Trefonas has helped to overcome a number of apparent limits to the sizes that are achievable, developing photoresists that are responsive to 436-nm and 365-nm ultraviolet light, and as small as 193
In 1989, Trefonas and others at Aspect Systems Inc. reported on extensive studies of polyfunctional photosensitive groups in positive photoresists. They studied diazonaphthoquinone (DNQ), a chemical compound used for dissolution inhibition of novolak resin in photomask creation. They mathematically modeled effects, predicted possible optimizations, and experimentally verified their predictions. They found that chemically bonding together three of the molecules of DNQ to create a new molecule containing three dissolution inhibitors in a single molecule, led to a better feature contrast, with better resolution and miniaturization.These modified DNQs became known as "polyfunctional photoactive components" (PACs). This approach, which they termed polyphotolysis, has also been referred to as the "Trefonas Effect." The technology of trifunctional diazonaphthoquinone PACs has become the industry standard in positive photoresists. Their mechanism has been elucidated and relates to a cooperative behavior of each of the three DNQ units in the new trifunctional dissolution inhibitor molecule. Phenolic strings from the acceptor groups of PACs that are severed from their anchors may reconnect to living strings, replacing two shorter polarized strings with one longer polarized string.
Trefonas has also been a leader in the development of fast etch organic Bottom Antireflective Coating (BARC)BARC technology minimizes the reflection of light from the substrate when imaging the photoresist. Light that is used to form the latent image in the photoresist film can reflect back from the substrate and compromise feature contrast and profile shape. Controlling interference from reflected light results in the formation of a sharper pattern with less variability and a larger process window.
In 2014, Trefonas and others at Dow were named Heroes of Chemistry by the American Chemical Society, for the development of Fast Etch Organic Bottom Antireflective Coatings (BARCs).In 2016, Trefonas was recognized with The SCI Perkin Medal for outstanding contributions to industrial chemistry. In 2018, Trefonas was named as a Fellow of the SPIE for "for achievements in design for manufacturing & compact modeling." Peter Trefonas was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2018 for the "invention of photoresist materials and microlithography methods underpinning multiple generations of microelectronics".
Note Correction, published in October: 'Sept. 12, page 27: A feature story profiling Dow Chemical's Peter Trefonas incorrectly identified when Dow acquired Rohm and Haas. The acquisition occurred in 2009, not 2001.'