7 April 2021
OIPT and LayTec collaborate on high-volume front-end processing
Plasma etch and deposition processing system maker Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology (OIPT) of Yatton, Bristol, UK and in-situ metrology system maker LayTec AG of Berlin, Germany have announced an exclusive collaboration agreement to enable the requirements of advanced semiconductor devices in the high-volume manufacturing (HVM) environment. The partnership aims to develop and integrate LayTec’s accuracy and control with Oxford Instruments’ wafer processing expertise.
Together, they aim to combine plasma process solutions with proven in-situ metrology to achieve next generation device performance and enable a repeatable HVM process to shorten customers’ yield ramp. LayTec will develop the in-situ metrology while Oxford Instruments will integrate LayTec’s control with its wafer processing solutions.
Driven by market demand for efficient power conversion, the Internet of Things (IoT) and datacoms compound semiconductor devices based on materials such as gallium arsenide/indium phosphide (GaAs/InP), silicon carbide (SiC) or gallium nitride (GaN) are becoming increasingly used due to their superior performance. However, challenges remain to move the technology from small prototypes to wafer-scale HVM. While device dimensions are relatively large, the often complex layer structure means that acute accuracy of processing within these layers is required to realise the required process stability and yield to drive down the cost per wafer and accelerate adoption into the target application.
“This technology partnership allows us to expand further along the process chain in one of our traditional core markets by applying our key knowledge of data analysis and integration of customized high-precision optical metrology systems,” says LayTec’s CEO Volker Blank. “After serving our customers in the compound semiconductor industry for more than two decades, we look forward to this new opportunity to support our customers in further processes and device optimization,” he adds.
“This is a crucial next step in the implementation of our product development strategy, and the accelerated timing reflects the recent momentum we’ve seen in the markets we serve,” says Frazer Anderson, Innovations & Solutions director at Oxford Instruments. “It also underlines our commitment to deliver continuous productivity improvements to our customers,” he adds. “As we enter a very exciting period of innovation and growth, it is our firm intention to meet the requirement of improved performance and reduced cost of ownership objectives necessary to support needs of the emerging GaN power and RF market. This collaboration with LayTec will further increase our ability to be able to deliver both requirements,” Anderson believes.
Combining Oxford Instruments’ stable plasma processing platform with LayTec’s precise end-point technology in plasma etching applications allows the control and repeatability needed to increase wafer-to-wafer yield, it is reckoned. The synergy of joint development and exclusive supply agreement will allow the expertise in both companies to develop and supply unique HVM-ready solutions for the evolving needs of the compound semiconductor industry, the firms add. The long-term agreement will cover developments on the entire range of Oxford Instruments’ plasma etch and deposition systems with shared rights to the intellectual property (IP) produced and co-ordinated marketing activities. The delivery of the first joint customer solution is targeted for second-half 2021.