By Arthur W. Zafiropoulo, Chairman and CEO, Ultratech, Inc.
After all the speculation, discussions and debates, the transition to 450-mm wafers will happen. As an equipment manufacturer, it is not enough to simply survive, but it is imperative to thrive in the transition to 450mm. While driven by all the major semiconductor companies, the transition to 450-mm wafers will have a compounding effect on equipment manufacturers’ R&D investments. By combining the technology challenges and the wafer diameter change, companies in the equipment industry will require a strong balance sheet to be successful.
Smart companies know that success lies in the ability to be bold and aggressive in R&D and remain conservative on the balance sheet. Success is also determined by a company’s efforts to prepare for the future by investing and developing the right technologies and supporting capabilities. By developing innovative technologies that address the critical issues around the transition and adoption, companies can play an enabling role for 450mm. At Ultratech, we have prepared for the transition to 450mm in our design concepts for our laser spike anneal (LSA) and advanced packaging systems. Both of these products offer the lowest technical risks due their scanning and step and repeat processes. We have added a new inspection technology targeted at device, wafer stress and pattern overlay, which will quickly identify yield and device performance issues.
To provide our customers with competitive advantages, Ultratech introduced seven advanced technology products in 2012 and each one serves a different market. With our LSA technology already proven to reduce stress on the wafer, we introduced two dual-beam laser systems that are built on the Unity Platform™, and are easily scalable for 450-mm applications. We believe the 450-mm LSA systems will provide the industry with new process capabilities that did not previously exist, and the first system will be delivered to the G450 Consortium at the end of 2013.
Also, Ultratech has developed a new technology, Superfast 3G, based on patented coherent gradient sensing technology (CGS) for inspection using a fundamental stress measurement technique to analyze deformation on a microscale over the entire wafer. The system has the flexibility to be implemented anywhere in the production line―front-, middle- and back-end-of-line―to address stress issues confronting leading-edge device manufacturers.
The development of innovative technologies that solve the critical issues for the transition and adoption of 450-mm manufacturing will be the defining factor for whether a company merely survives or thrives. Ultratech is a company that is thriving.