SEMICON West: Roaming the floor, LEDs, CMP pads, kudos to Napoleon

by Michael A. Fury, Techcet Group

Click to Enlarge July 14, 2011 - Roaming the show floor is always a mix of nostalgia (old friends are still in the business), reassurance that a new generation has taken an interest in the industry, and just a touch of melancholy that great halls that used to have to turn away semiconductor suppliers due to over-subscription are now shared with other industries like MEMS, LEDs and other lighting, displays, and of course the sprawling PV infrastructure (Intersolar this year actually encroached into a section of the North Hall of Moscone, with the West Hall across the way full to bursting.)

Bobbi Rossi and the folks at Spartan Felt are continuing to nudge their product lines from industrial glass closer to the CMP space each year. In addition to hard pads that can compete with IC-1000 and ceria fix abrasive pads, they are producing zirconia and silicon carbide fix abrasive pads for other industries. But given the variety of new materials being using in semiconductor devices, it won’t be long before someone tries these exotic pads for some new CMP application.

SEMICON West 2011
Day 0: Market forecasts, supply-chain dynamics
Day 1: Intersolar wanderings, SEMICON West symposium
Day 2: CMP views, outlooks for breakfast
Day 2.5: Roaming the floor, LEDs, CMP pads, kudos to Napoleon
Day 3: Two eye-catching technologies in CMP slurry, printed electronics

Peter Pozniak of Malema Sensors gave me a guided tour of their Coriolis flow meters that can maintain stable liquid flow readings with 50% air entrainment, far beyond the point at which an ultrasonic flow sensor will give up in despair. The meters work equally well on clear fluids and fully loaded slurries; in the case of slurries, they can even report the density of the materials flowing through. I don’t understand enough of the fundamental operating principles to give away any state secrets, but it is based on an invention attributed to Napoleon (yes, the Bonaparte one), who noticed that cannonballs fired along east-west lines found their targets more reliably than those fired along north-south lines. The rotation of the earth was the culprit, and Napoleon learned how to compensate accurately for this Coriolis effect.

Eric Virey, LED analyst for Yole D

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