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INDUSTRY NEWS

Novellus donates to China

Continuing its support of microelectronics education in China, Novellus has donated a 200-mm CMP tool to Tsinghua University in Beijing and sponsored a three-year professorship at the school. The orbital CMP system, initially outfitted for oxide planarization, will allow the university to integrate multilevel metallization into its chipmaking process flow. The first year of the professorship will be given to Zhiping Yu, deputy director of the Institute of Microelectronics of Tsinghua University (IMETU), where he will be supported in research on low-k materials integration and device performance. Previous contributions by Novellus to develop microelectronics education in China include the donation of a copper process tool suite to Fudan University in Shanghai in 2003 and the sponsorship of an annual interconnect symposium at Fudan.

Renesas, AMAT join up

A leading chipmaker and the largest semiconductor equipment manufacturer have become members of two industry consortia. Renesas is the 13th company to join the International Sematech Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI). Citing ISMI’s programs in manufacturing productivity and benchmarking as its main reasons for joining ISMI, the Japanese company follows Panasonic, Spansion, and Samsung as consortium participants outside the nine core Sematech member companies.

Applied Materials has joined the Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC), bringing that research organization’s corporate head count up to 24. Applied participated in recent meetings at SRC to plan the next five years of research by consortium members. “This involvement in SRC is an outstanding complement to Applied’s university support programs around the world,” said company CTO Mark Pinto.

Project targets supply chain

An R&D partnership wants to build an information system for the semiconductor supply chain with radio frequency identification (RFID) devices. ChipMOS, Oracle Taiwan, and the Taiwanese Institution of Engineering for Information Industry have teamed up to develop an RFID-based system that offers real-time wafer-lot identification and chip-probing information during the wafer sorting, with the goals of enhancing productivity and shortening total processing time. Customers participating in the project, which is partly subsidized by the Taiwanese Ministry of Economic Affairs, include Cypress Semiconductor. “RFID technology has great potential to increase inventory control, efficiency, and security,” said S. J. Cheng, chairman and CEO of ChipMOS. “The information system to be developed by the R&D alliance will potentially enable our customers to have real-time information to monitor production status and reduce operating costs.”

Report sees thin-film growth

A report on new display, photovoltaic, sensor, lighting, and other thin-film electronics markets forecasts prodigious growth over the next eight years. NanoMarkets’ “The New Thin-Film Electronics: Large-Area Electronics and Beyond” sees phenomenal market expansion for novel applications in a variety of large-area electronics, semiconductor-related technologies, and other sectors, such as thin-film batteries. The report says that revenues for the novel technologies portion of the market space should reach $10.7 billion by 2010 and double again by 2012 to $21.7 billion, while the total thin-film electronics market will exceed $50 billion by 2012. One section of the study focuses on opportunity analyses by production mode, discussing atomic layer deposition, ink-jet printing, and self-assembly techniques as modes likely to create new opportunities. Another section, “Firms to Watch,” examines some of the players large and small that are already active in the thin-film electronics industries. For more information on the report, go to www.nanomarkets.net.

IMEC VC fund capitalized

IMEC’s venture capital fund, Capital-E, has announced an initial capitalization of e35.5 million. The fund, which was launched in April 2005, received investments from various Belgian institutional and other sources. Capital-E will invest in two to three micro- and nanoelectronics start-ups per year, with the short-term focus on Flemish companies and the longer-term plan to look for recipients throughout Western Europe. The group expects to close a second round of funding with non-Belgian investors by year’s end, bringing the total capital to e50 million. Capital-E, which has the right of first refusal on IMEC spin-off incubation projects, wants to finance 10–15 start-ups over the next five years.

Foresight seeks nominees

Foresight Nanotech Institute is looking for nominees for its four 2006 awards. Two Foresight Institute Feynman prizes, named for the late physicist Richard Feynman, will be given out, one for experiment and the other for theory in nanotechnology. The Foresight Institute Prize in Communication honors outstanding journalistic or communication work that has led to a better understanding of molecular technology, while the Foresight Distinguished Student Award is conferred on a college undergraduate or graduate student who has done notable research in the nanotech arena. Deadline for nominations is June 30; winners will be announced at nanoTX ’06 in Dallas on September 27–28. For more information, go to http://foresight.org/prize.


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