Monday, October 10, 2022

Samco launches new ICP Tornado Plasma ALD system

Samco, a leading manufacturer of etching, deposition and surface treatment processing equipment for the semiconductor and related industries and academic facilities, launches the new Plasma Enhanced Atomic Layer Deposition (PEALD) system, "AD-800LP". The main target of the system is gate oxide film deposition for next-generation power devices of silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) materials, which will play important role toward carbon neutral.

Tornado ICP Coil®,  Samco ICP etch systems are equipped with Tornado ICP Coil® which was specially designed for compound semiconductor etching. It is difficult to achieve desired profiles of InP and GaAs due to byproduct redeposition. The Tornado ICP Coil® reduces byproduct redeposition by optimizing etchant species and densities in plasma etching. (Source: Samco)

The plasma enhanced ALD system "AD-800LP" is a multi-purpose R&D system equipped with a unique ICP plasma source called "Tornado ICP", in addition to the conventional thermal ALD capability. AD-800LP enables various film deposition such as oxide or nitride films by Tornado ICP, which is Samco's proprietary plasma technology and is different from remote plasma. Tornado ICP enables stable plasma discharge even in the high-pressure range during ALD deposition.

“We are also considering a cluster ALD system that can connect multiple reaction chambers for production” says Tsukasa Kawabe, President and COO of Samco. “The launch of the AD-800LP will greatly enhance our presence in the world ALD equipment market.” Tsukasa adds.

As a global mid-sized company, Samco has successfully delivered numerous dry etch systems and plasma enhanced CVD systems for the electronic device field, mainly for compound semiconductors such as SiC, GaN, and GaAs, not only in Japan but also in the United States, Europe, Taiwan, Korea, China, Southeast Asia, India, and other countries.

The new Research Center for Nano Thin Films & Materials, which opened in February 2022, conducts research and development of unique thin film deposition, including ALD system. Samco will continue to utilize our "thin-film technology" to develop unique products and expand sales globally.

About Samco Inc.
Samco Inc. (TSE: 6387) stands for Semiconductor And Materials Company, and is a leading manufacturer of processing equipment for the semiconductor and related industries founded by Mr. Osamu Tsuji in Kyoto, Japan in 1979. Over the past forty-three years, more than 4,300 Samco systems have been installed and used in 35 different countries. Its equipment and thin film technology are widely adopted in the fabrication of semiconductor devices, including BAW filters, SiC power devices, GaN RF devices, GaAs VCSELs, InP lasers, microLEDs, MEMS, TSVs, advanced packaging, and so on. Learn more at

NCD’s ALD technology and equipment for oxidation barrier of copper-based substrates

Copper is a metal used widely as the main material of Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and Lead Frame. But it is required to protect the oxidation because copper is easily oxidized in the condition of humidity, temperature, and pH, etc.

Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold (ENIG), Organic Solderability Preservative (OSP), Immersion Sn or Ag (ImSn or ImAg) is generally used to prevent oxidation of opened copper area after Solder Masking in PCBs. The lead Frame is protected from oxidizing by plating Au, Ag, Pd, and Ni after Lead Frame forming.

Recently, many groups have studied about preventing oxidation on the surface of copper by various corrosion protection layers of ALD metal oxides. Especially, Appling Al2O3 layer to the oxidation barrier is actively being researched.

 < Surface images and TEM & EDS of Cu plates coated by ALD thin films after annealing test >

After depositing Al2O3 layers on Cu-plated plates with various film thicknesses and process temperatures, the oxidation and corrosion behavior of the coated copper was examined with different annealing times in the oven. There was no oxidation before annealing, but after annealing for 1hr, as the sample’s thickness lowered and process temperature decreased, the oxidation happened and increased gradually. There was no oxidation on the plates coated with 50~60 ALD cycles and at process temperatures of 70~100 after annealing for 5hr, and oxidation didn’t occur only in the case of 60 cycles and 100 after annealing for 24hr.

To analyze the change of the structure and confirm the oxidation behavior, TEM and EDS were measured on 5 and 10nm Al2O3 coated Cu plates at 100. The results showed that a thick Cu oxide layer was built by combining Cu coming out through the 5nm Al2O3 layer and outer oxygen after annealing.

On the other side, in the case of depositing 10nm Al2O3 film, the ALD layer was maintained after annealing, so Cu oxide layer wasn’t built on the surface. Therefore it confirmed that 10nm ALD Al2O3 layer showed an excellent corrosion barrier.


< ALD equipment for Lead Frame and PCB >

Copper-based PCBs and Lead Frames for semiconductors may have great properties to prevent humidity and oxygen by ALD-coated corrosion barriers.    

NCD has high volume and large area ALD equipment and technology for this kind of application. ALD tools for Lead Frames could be used by adding a dedicated transfer module on the base of Lucida GSH Series. And NCD has been developing new ALD equipment, Lucida GP Series, for large and flexible PCB substrates. NCD would extend the new ALD application area continuously through constant R&D.



Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Ascent Funds Invests in Forge Nano Atomic Armor for Lithium-Ion Batteries & Hydrogen Fuel Cells

September 13, 2022; Miami, USA: Ascent Funds (“Ascent”), an energy-tech venture company today announced it has invested in Forge Nano Inc (“Forge Nano”), inventor of nanocoating technology Atomic Armor, which coats a protective atomic layer on a wide range of materials, powders and products to deliver greater performance for a lower cost. Forge Nano is preparing to build a US$120 million 500MWh Atomic Armor battery facility in Denver, Colorado which will deliver some of the most efficient and longest lasting batteries in the world.

Batteries that have Atomic Armor; last 100% longer, charge 300% faster

Forge Nano is the global leader in scalable atomic layer deposition (“ALD”), a unique coating technology that produces a protective atomic layer on a range of materials, powders, and products providing greater protection, performance, durability and safety.

Invented in the 1960s, ALD is mainly used in the semiconductor and OLED industries with the technology commonly found in many mobile phone components. Since 2011, Forge Nano has developed a proprietary ALD process that allows for four times faster coating speeds than any other semiconductor ALD tool provider and enables scale for use on powders and larger surface area objects, such as; lithium-ion batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, pharmaceuticals and vaccines, consumer, sporting and apparel products. Forge Nano calls their ALD coating Atomic Armor.

Atomic Armor works especially well for battery materials, where it stabilizes the surfaces at the atomic level. These coatings prevent excessive wear and damage to the batteries by preventing unwanted reactions among the battery’s internal components. Batteries that have Atomic Armor last 100% longer, charge 300% faster, and dissipate heat more effectively.

Over the past decade, Forge Nano has emerged as a market leader in large-scale ALD. In 2021, Forge Nano announced the world’s first ALD enabled battery for space, with the launching of a high energy lithium-ion battery into orbit aboard the SpaceX Transporter-2 rideshare mission. The Li-ion batteries, featuring Forge Nano Particle ALD technology and Enersys Zero Volt Technology were integrated into spire Global, Inc’s LEMUR-2 satellite.

Atomic Armor can improve performance in hydrogen fuel cells, electrolyzers and storage

Since 2019, Forge Nano has collaborated with the U.S Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, University of Connecticut, Colorado School of Mines and Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy Systems in Germany to accelerate the development of more efficient component parts for hydrogen fuel cells, electrolyzers and hydrogen storage technology. In the hydrogen value chain, Forge Nano’s Atomic Armor can transition fuel cells away from low-scale, costly electrode fabrications while increasing durability and limiting the use of platinum group metals. This reduces both the cost of the fuel cell as well as the technology’s dependence on expensive metals.

Mr David Wu, President of Ascent Funds said, “At Ascent, we look for transformational technology that can have an immediate and profound impact on the energy transition, especially in the hydrogen ecosystem. With over a decade’s experience in enhancing lithium-ion batteries and other materials, Forge Nano is the only commercially large-scale ALD player that can offer a real step-change in productivity, performance and cost for hydrogen companies. For example, instead of using expensive platinum or titanium catalysts, fuel cells could use low cost metal catalysts coated with atomic armor. Until now, atomic armor for hydrogen technology was a theoretical ambition because it couldn’t be scaled – today, atomic armor is a reality’.

Mr. Paul Lichty, CEO of Forge Nano, said: “We are excited to have Ascent join us as investors and advisors. They have a strong track record in identifying game changing technologies and helping those companies to scale and commercialize. In addition, Ascent’s knowledge and experience across the global hydrogen industry will be paramount as our technology becomes an accelerant in the energy transition, particularly for mobility, be it BEV or FCEV.”

Ascent joins existing shareholders Volkswagens, LG Chem, Air-Liquide, Mitsui Kinzoku, Sumitomo and SCG from Thailand.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

ASM International has completed the acquisition of Italian Silicon Carbide Equipment Manufacturer LPE S.p.A.

ASM International (Euronext Amsterdam: ASM) today announces that it has completed the acquisition of LPE S.p.A., after having received regulatory approvals.

On July 18, 2022, ASM entered into a definitive agreement under which it would at closing acquire all of the outstanding shares of LPE, an Italian based manufacturer of epitaxial reactors for silicon carbide (SiC) and silicon. As announced in our press release of July 18, 2022, the transaction is financed with a combination of cash, a conditional earn out, and 631,154 ASM shares (a combination of 580,000 treasury shares and 51,154 newly issued shares).

The acquisition has been completed today, and LPE is now a fully owned subsidiary and will operate as a product unit under ASM’s Global Products organization.

“This is an important milestone for ASM. We are excited to welcome LPE and its talented and experienced team into ASM,” said Benjamin Loh, President and CEO of ASM. “Together with LPE we look forward to capturing many of the opportunities in the high-growth silicon carbide epitaxy market and to support our power electronics customers with innovative solutions, driving the further electrification of the automotive industry.”
“I believe ASM is the right partner for LPE, especially now looking at the growth we are seeing in the silicon carbide market. The global reach that ASM has with its entrenched supplier and customer networks will bring benefits to all stakeholders,” said Franco Preti, who envisioned the silicon carbide opportunity in the earliest stages and led LPE growth as CEO until the acquisition.

LPE is profitable with margins in line with ASM’s 2021-2025 target model. As announced earlier, LPE’s revenue is projected to grow to more than €100 million in 2023, mainly driven by its SiC epitaxy equipment business. Based on ASM internal estimates, demand for SiC epitaxy equipment is forecasted to grow at a CAGR in excess of 25% from 2021 to 2025, driven by the rapidly expanding market for electric vehicles.