By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor
There are four main segments in the thin-layer deposition equipment market – atomic layer deposition, chemical vapor deposition, epitaxy, and physical vapor deposition, also known as sputtering.
As the semiconductor industry powers through the 14-nanometer process generation, interest is keen on how researchers and suppliers will improve the current crop of deposition equipment to meet the requirements of the 10nm and 7 nm nodes.
The long-pending merger of Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron into a company to be called Eteris, called off in April due to regulatory issues, would have created a mighty deposition vendor, holding nearly 60% of the worldwide market. Applied still holds a commanding share of the deposition market, yet will have to contend with Lam Research (which acquired Novellus Systems in 2012), AIXTRON, ASM International, and other competitors.
Global Industry Analysts (GIA) forecasts the global deposition equipment market will hit $13.6 billion by 2020. Atomic layer deposition (ALD) will be the fastest growing segment, with a compound annual growth rate of 19.9 percent, the market research firm estimates.
Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) will be the second largest deposition segment through the end of this decade, followed by physical vapor deposition (PVD) and epitaxy, according to GIA. Japanese vendors, namely Hitachi Kokusai Electric/Kokusai Semiconductor Equipment and Tokyo Electron, dominate the worldwide CVD market, with significant market shares held by Applied Materials, ASM International, and Lam Research, the market research firm states.
Taiwan is the world’s largest market for deposition equipment, Global Industry Analysts says. That’s not surprising, since SEMI estimates that Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturers will spend about $10.5 billion on wafer fabrication equipment this year, representing nearly 30 percent of worldwide spending on fab equipment in 2015. GIA sees China being among the fastest-growing markets for deposition, with a CAGR of 15.1 percent.
In May, Applied Materials introduced the Applied Endura Cirrus HTX PVD system for making titanium nitride hardmask films, targeting applications in fabricating semiconductors with 10nm and 7nm features.
A year ago at SEMICON West, the company debuted the Applied Producer XP Precision CVD system, which it said supports the industry transition to 3D NAND flash memory devices by providing nanometer-level layer-to-layer film thickness control for critical-dimension uniformity across a wafer.
July of 2014 also saw Lam Research unveil its VECTOR ALD Oxide system to produce conformal dielectric films defining critical pattern dimensions in multiple patterning.
SEMICON West 2015 is expected to see announcements on new products and research in the deposition equipment field.