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Former chemistry chair wins 2013 Japan Prize

Jean Frechet

Former Cornell faculty member Jean M.J. Frechet has been awarded a 2013 Japan Prize for his work in developing materials integral to semiconductor manufacturing.

Frechet, who served on the chemistry faculty from 1987-98, including as department chair from 1995-98, is being honored in the field of “materials and production” for his role in developing photoresist polymer materials. Frechet is vice president for research at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, an institution that shares scientific collaborations with Cornell, including the KAUST-Cornell Center for Energy and Sustainability.

Among the technologies that have driven semiconductor innovation over the past half a century is lithography, the process of engraving fine circuits. In 1980, Frechet, along with colleagues Grant Willson of the University of Texas at Austin, and the late Hiroshi Ito of IBM, embarked on the development of the resist to be used for lithography, and succeeded in developing a technology known as a chemically amplified resist.

Through their work, lithography using a short wavelength, deep ultraviolet was achieved. By improving the chemically amplified resist, a new era of the integrated circuit with a semiconductor circuit width of less than 250 nanometers was born.

The Japan Prize is awarded to scientists throughout the world who have had “original and outstanding achievements” and have made major contributions to the advancement of science and technology, “furthering the cause of peace and prosperity of mankind.”

The Japan Prize winners will be honored in Tokyo April 24.

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