While AMAT plugs a hole in the ALD market, Genus stands its ground

Applied Materials announced its entry into ALD (atomic layer deposition) at SEMICON West, essentially targeting interconnect applications. Genus, however, has been offering an ALD solution for capacitors and thin film magnetic heads.

Besides Genus and AMAT, Tom Seidel, executive VP and CTO of Genus, noted that ASM and several Korean companies were also doing ALD (IPS, PKS, Genetek). And while most companies might be disconcerted to hear of a major company joining the competitive landscape, Seidel seemed sure of Genus’ position. “Because there is still some question in the industry of the commercial viability of ALD as a technology, the fact that Applied Materials is also developing it is a validation of what Genus has been doing for the last several years,” explained Seidel.

“AMAT has announced ALD-W [nucleation] combined with CVD W [plug fill],” Seidel observed. “Given AMAT’s broader processing capabilities – it has both CMP and ECP as well as barrier seed layer ( it makes sense for them to be pursuing a greater interconnect market because of the larger ROI even though the R&D investment for ALD at this level is also huge. Applied also announced the combined use of ALD W electrode with its CVD Ta2O5 for capacitors.”

Genus has both ALD barrier electrodes (TiN and WN) as well as a suite of ALD dielectrics including Ta2O5 and others, Seidel said.

“In this area, there can be overlap and direct competition. The outcome will depend on overall performance metrics such as capacitance density, leakage, integration requirements, and productivity,” remarked Seidel. “Genus, with its barriers and dielectrics, is focusing on capacitors, gates and thin film magnetic heads. The industry has an immediate need for all these processes, whereas the broader interconnect applications, which may include copper, will come later.”

– Debra Vogler, technical editor, WaferNews

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