sells unit to BASF
world's largest chemical company bought the electronic chemicals business
of one of the next-largest companies. Merck sold its EC unit to BASF for
Euro 270 million; the group—which offers a wide range of ultrapure
process chemicals and analytical services—had sales of Euro 155
million in the first nine months of 2004. The companies say that the 600
or so workers employed by the Merck operation will be transferred to the
new parent. The deal includes Merck's management, technology, and production
sites and distribution centers in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, China,
Germany, and The Netherlands. The companies say they will jointly manage
the business in the Taiwanese market during a transition period that will
run no later than to the end of 2005. Also, the employees working in Merck's
Darmstadt, Germany, plant will remain with the company and perform manufacturing
for BASF for the next three years.
opens new plant
a move to significantly increase its microelectronic chemicals production
capacity, Honeywell Electronic Materials has opened a new manufacturing
facility in Chandler, AZ. The 40,000-sq-ft plant will boost the company's
capabilities in both straight and customized wet-etch, cleaning, wafer-thinning,
and other semiconductor process chemicals, with purity levels down to
the parts-per-trillion regime. Construction of the new facility was begun
as part of the former GEM Microelectronic Materials joint venture between
Honeywell and Mitsubishi; Honeywell bought out Mitsubishi's 40% stake
in GEM in November 2004 to take sole ownership.
adds to Singapore house
meet growing regional demand, DuPont Photomasks has increased capacity
by about 25% at its five-year-old photomask production fab in Singapore.
The company has added an advanced laser pattern generator line as well
as inspection and support equipment. The expansion came as part of its
previously announced capital expenditures in fiscal year 2005 and bolsters
the Singapore facility's position as one of the largest mask houses in
Southeast Asia. In a statement accompanying the announcement, STMicroelectronics
vp and general manager Jeffrey See said DPI "is as determined as we are
to reduce cycle times, improve yields, and speed time to market.... This
capacity expansion confirms their commitment to helping us meet the market
and technology demands now and in the future."
a major resolution of patent and trade-secret litigation, SMIC has agreed
to pay TSMC $175 million in installments over six years. The two parties
also agreed to cross license to each other's patent portfolio through
December 2010. The agreement provides for the dismissal of all pending
legal actions without prejudice between the two companies in U.S. and
Taiwanese courts and before the U.S. International Trade Commission. As
part of the deal, TSMC pledges not to sue the Chinese foundry company
for itemized acts of trade secret misappropriation as alleged in the complaints,
although the settlement does not grant a license to SMIC to use any of
the Taiwanese foundry's trade secrets. The patent cross-license and settlement
agreement can be terminated by TSMC on a breach by SMIC, which would result
in the reinstitution of the legal proceedings and acceleration of the
outstanding payments under the settlement agreement. (See the January/February
2005 issue's Editor's Page for more details on the dispute.)
grants Philips license
Advanced Metrology Systems has signed an exclusive, long-term licensing
agreement with MKS Instruments for use of its proprietary high-speed infrared
thin-film metrology technology. Philips, which will incorporate MKS's
model-based advanced process control approach into its existing Series
2000 and 3000 fully automated tool platforms, says the first market for
the IR technique will be on-line metrology in high-volume DRAM manufacturing.
The company also plans to develop a series of new thin-film products employing
the MKS technology.
firm scores funds
Processware has received $5.65 million in third-round venture funding
from lead investor Vision Capital, existing investor ACT Venture Capital,
and new investor Intel Capital. The Dublin, Ireland–based supplier
(formerly known as Scientific Systems) of real-time fault detection and
classification (FDC) software will use the monies to increase its worldwide
market share though continuing technology development, expansion of its
sales force, and enhancement of its customer service and support capabilities.
"Real-time solutions such as Straatum's, involving advanced process controls
and FDC, play an important role in correcting errors and reducing equipment
downtime," says Damien Callaghan, Intel Capital's strategic investment
pumps up HEMTs
work conducted with TriQuint Semiconductor's R&D group, Picogiga has
helped develop what it calls the world's most powerful silicon-based aluminum–gallium
nitride/gallium nitride (AlGaN/GaN) high-electron-mobility transistors
(HEMTs). The supplier, a division of the Soitec Group, used its proprietary
molecular-beam epitaxy process to grow the compounds, then provided the
structures to TriQuint. Using AlGaN/GaN heterostructures and 0.3-µm-length
gates to fabricate the devices on Picogiga's silicon-based GaN epi material,
the chipmaker's research facility reported the industry's highest power
density to date. The silicon-based transistor-continuous wave reached
an output power density of 7 W/mm at 10 GHz without external device cooling.
to improved material growth by Picogiga and TriQuint's optimized process,
we achieved high breakdown voltages and good isolation for these devices,"
notes Deep Dumka, senior research engineer at the chipmaker. This "allowed
us to operate them at a 40-V drain bias.... This suggests that GaN-on-silicon
has evolved to a level that makes it attractive for implementation in
medium- to high-power transistors." Picogiga introduced its new suite
of advanced AlGaN/GaN epi layers on silicon in early 2004 and offers the
product in 2-, 3-, and 4-in.-diam substrates.
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