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INDUSTRY NEWS

Vitex rolls toward flexibility

An R&D contract from the U.S. Display Consortium and an equipment and materials order from a major Japanese company have boosted Vitex Systems' efforts to commercialize its proprietary transparent barrier coating and flexible-glass substrate technologies. These deals add to the company's existing contracts with USDC and the U.S. Army Research Labs to develop flexible, active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays, as well as development work and evaluations with several companies on a variety of OLED-bearing substrates.

The company, which spun out of Battelle Memorial Institute in 1999, will share with USDC the nearly $2 million cost of a multiphase project to scale up high-volume, roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacturing capability for the production of flexible OLEDs. The flagship order includes one of Vitex's Guardian deposition tools, its Barix thin-film encapsulation-resin system, relevant process technology, and a license to use the patented Vitex solutions. Scheduled for shipment in September, the product suite will be used by the Japanese firm for R&D on next-generation OLED displays and materials.  

COO Jim Marshall told MICRO at the company's San Jose headquarters that Vitex's focus is on process development, technology transfer, and integration issues. The supplier's strategic partners include Tokki, which does the outsourced manufacturing of the Guardian platform in Japan, and Techni-Met, which has a jointly developed prototype vacuum roll coater at its Connecticut site. Challenges in the barrier substrate area that must be solved before sampling include particle and other defect reduction and deposition uniformity, explained Marshall. Achieving film-surface smoothness and identifying the root causes of permeation are key focuses in the early stages of the R2R efforts, he added.

The first R&D system was installed in August 2004, and he expects four more to be shipped this year. The company's goal is to have orders booked at display makers in the first half of 2005, as well as at large R&D organizations, according to Marshall. He believes the design of the mass-production manufacturing equipment will be available by the end of 2005 or beginning of 2006, adding that Vitex is actively seeking customer feedback on process integration issues on the tool design.

CNT tips fit SPM needs

In one of the first commercial applications of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) for semiconductor production use, single CNT tips have been grown to customer specifications directly on silicon scanning probe microscope (SPM) cantilevers. In efforts funded by the Advanced Materials Research Corp., Xidex produced the tips in collaboration with the department of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin and tested them at Sematech's facilities.

Xidex says that, compared with conventional silicon tips, nanotubes can be made with much smaller end radii (down to 1 nm) and very high aspect ratios. This allows them to slip into the increasingly hard-to-access spaces between nanoscale features. The new tips are also more wear resistant than their silicon counterparts, extending their useful life and enabling higher-precision measurements.

Chipmaking report issued

A comprehensive research report on the state of advanced global chipmaking has been published. Frost & Sullivan's World Front-end Semiconductor Manufacturing Technologies, compiled by lead analyst Sivakumar Muthuramalingam, examines trends and developments in next-generation IC production practices. Areas of interest include novel wafer-cleaning approaches such as supercritical carbon dioxide, atomic layer and other ultra-thin-layer deposition techniques, silicon-on-insulator materials, and advanced ion implantation processes. The report offers assessments of technology transfer opportunities, as well as adoption factor analyses of the various product and process groups. There is also a database of key industry participants and patents and a set of reference tables. The report costs $4550; for more info, go to www.frost.com.

Key symposia call for papers

Two symposia dealing with critical challenges facing the semiconductor industry are looking for presentations. The second International Symposium on Immersion Lithography, organized by Sematech and IMEC in cooperation with Selete, will take place September 12–15 in Bruges, Belgium. The organizers need abstracts of at least 193 words submitted by May 15 on such topics as photoresists, masks, tools, hyper-NA effects, metrology, defectivity, optical materials, and modeling. The papers will be selected and presenters notified by June 17. Interested parties should e-mail immersion.symposium@imec.be.

ISMI is also organizing its second annual symposium, slated for October 24–26 in Austin, TX. The goal of the event is to share information and methodologies for reducing manufacturing expenses in existing and next-generation fabs through advances in equipment, processes, resource conservation, fab design, and manufacturing methods. Topics include tool and process productivity improvements, yield modeling, integrated metrology, factory optimization, design for EHS, and facility systems reliability. Abstracts of no more than 500 words are due by June 15, with acceptances confirmed by August 1. For more information, e-mail ismi.symposium@sematech.org.


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