Compiled ByDeborah Austin Three major Europe-based semiconductor manufacturers have unveiled a proposal for a worldwide standard to define and evaluate "lead-free" semiconductor devices. They say their interest has been spurred partially by European Commission legislative restrictions that will ban materials such as lead, mercury, and cadmium in electrical and electronic devices effective Jan. 1, 2006. The manufacturers are Infineon Technologies AG, Munich; Philips Semiconductors, Eindhoven, The Netherlands; and STMicroelectronics NV, Geneva. The companies' proposed standard contains an upper limit for lead in "lead-free" components of 0.1% related to the individual material, not to the whole package or component. By year's end, the three intend to make available components that are "lead-free" according to the proposed standard.