Sunday, October 30, 2016

ALD news & future outlook from the 3Q 2016 ASM Interlational earnings call

Here is a summary and some personal reflections of the ASM International 3Q/2016 earnings call (Full version at SeekingAlpha) having the ALD binoculars on, as always. In any, case nothing else than ALD was discussed and the main focus was on single wafer ALD and not batch furnace directly. There was however an interesting question from ING on the rumors that ASM will place an offer on Hitachi Kokusai, which Chuck del Prado declined to comment on other than in general terms that ASM has an organic growth strategy and will take opportunities if they give long term growth and therefore share holder value.

My take on this is that we know ASM has made very successful acquisitions in the past, i.e., Microchemistry Oy Finland (ALD technology) and Genitech South Korea (PEALD) and both acquisitions have become crucial fundaments to ASM ALD domination today. However, ASM has not been that successful in ALD Large Batch business, which is dominated by Tokyo Electron and Hitachi Kokusai.

Kokusai also have Batch SiGe Epi process which could add to the ASM Epi business. Based on this it makes sense for ASM to acquire Kokusai. Timing is also good since it is also for sale and ASM has a lot of cash so it is very interesting times. However, you can imagine that also other OEMs are interested in Hitachi Kokusai so let´s see what the outcome will be.

Over to the call - ASM International President and CEO Chuck del Prado reported that as usual the ALD business was again the main driver in the third quarter. The revenue was led by foundry, followed by memory (3DNAND & DRAM) and not so much by logic, which decreased compared to 2Q/2016. The driver for in foundry and logic was driven by 10 nm investments taking place and in memory there was a drift from DRAM towards 3D NAND.

Foundry & Logic

The transition to 10 nm shows an increase in the number of ALD layers for which ASM has been been claiming additional business as compared to the previous 14 nm 16 nm generation. ASM expect to book record revenue in the foundry segment this year compared to previous years.


Following strong spending levels in 2015 DRAM the  spending went down substantially in 2016. A recovery in DRAM spending has been pushed out and is not expected to occur before mid 2017. The key driver will then be the 1X technology node (Samsung, Hynix and Micron).

For NAND flash that is in transition, the single wafer ALD market and customer spending in NAND flash has shifted from planar NAND to 3D NAND. As a consequence the multiple patterning in planar NAND has close to disappeared by now.

For 3D NAND Chuck del Prado announced that ASM has booked multiple XP8 tool orders for a number of ALD applications in the third quarter and ASM expect double digit growth in the 3D NAND single wafer ALD market in 2017.

For Xpoint (Intel & Micron) ASM announced that they have a R&D engagement for quite some time and are ready for the that market to take off. 
Eagle XP8 is a high productivity 300mm tool for PEALD applications. The Eagle XP8 PEALD system can be configured with up to four Dual Chamber Modules (DCM), enabling eight chambers in high volume production within a very compact footprint. (

Future outlook of the ALD market

ASM maintain their forecast that the single wafer ALD market will show a double digit percentage decline in 2016. As explained above due to a significant drop in the memory segment, both in the DRAM and in NAND flash. The drop is only partially offset by a substantial increase in the logic/foundry segment, i.e., 10 nm investments.

For 2017 ASM expectation is that the (single wafer) ALD market will improve due to growthin logic/foundry and 3D NAND applications. However, DRAM spending will come later (mid 2017).

"... the longer term outlook for the single wafer ALD market, the outlook for structural growth remains strongly driven by miniaturization and the introduction of new materials and new complex device architectures. We still estimate that these markets, this market to double by the 2018, 2019 timeframe. Given the decline in the market in 2016, it is more likely that this will happen in 2019 than in 2018." - Chuck del Prado 

Chuck del Prado summarized the growth drivers in single wafer ALD to:
  • Complexity and low temperature requirements of advanced FinFET structures drive a strong increase in new ALD applications and layers.  
  • ALD-based multiple patterning is a key enabler of the 10 nanometer transition and also the 7 nanometer node in logic/foundry, and the transition from 14/16 nanometer to 10 nanometer and 7 nanometer, over a multiyear period, will expand the single wafer ALD served available market in logic/foundry to more than double in total. 
  • In DRAM, we expect multiple patterning to remain a steady contributor for the coming technology transition. 
  • In NAND, from a lower base in 2016, we foresee a steady increase in the number of single wafer ALD applications as customers transition to next generation higher stack 3D NAND devices in the coming years.
During the questioning at the end of the call Chuck del Prado reassured the statement form earlier that the the more than doubling in ALD growth is the transition from 16/14 nm to 10 and 7. I assume he also include the single wafer opportunities in 3DNAND and the 1x nm DRAM invest up ahead.

For us ALD R&D guys it would mean that we would need to increase our R&D effort all the same and plan for >1600 delegates at the next European ALD conference 2020 as ALD2016 Ireland had 811 delegates - or has ALD transitioned form a technology push to a Industry pull already some years ago?

Hot paper on selective Atomic Layer Etching using fluorination and ligand-exchange reactions

Here is a very recent publication on Atomic Layer Etching (ALE) shared to me by my co-worker at Lund Nano Lab MD Sabbir Ahmed Khan (Now at Aalto University, Finland) - Thank you! The paper is from the group of Steven M. George at CU Boulder and Sematech on selective ALE using fluorination and ligand-exchange reactions - sort of backwards thermal ALD.

For those of you with interest in ALE please remember that the 4th International Atomic Layer Etching Workshop (ALE2017) will be featured at the 17th International Conference on Atomic Layer Deposition, July 15-18, 2017, Denver, Colorado. ALE2017 is chaired by Prof. Steven .M. George and Keren Kanarik from Lam Research.

Selectivity in Thermal Atomic Layer Etching Using Sequential, Self-Limiting Fluorination and Ligand-Exchange Reactions

Younghee Lee, Craig Huffman, and Steven M. George*§
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309, United States
SUNY Poly SEMATECH, Albany, New York 12203, United States
§ Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309, United States
Chem. Mater., Article ASAP
(Figure Shared under Rightsink Account #:   3000915597)
Abstract: Atomic layer etching (ALE) can result from sequential, self-limiting thermal reactions. The reactions during thermal ALE are defined by fluorination followed by ligand exchange using metal precursors. The metal precursors introduce various ligands that may transfer during ligand exchange. If the transferred ligands produce stable and volatile metal products, then the metal products may leave the surface and produce etching. In this work, selectivity in thermal ALE was examined by exploring tin(II) acetylacetonate (Sn(acac)2), trimethylaluminum (TMA), dimethylaluminum chloride (DMAC), and SiCl4 as the metal precursors. These metal precursors provide acac, methyl, and chloride ligands for ligand exchange. HF-pyridine was employed as the fluorination reagent. Spectroscopic ellipsometry was used to measure the etch rates of Al2O3, HfO2, ZrO2, SiO2, Si3N4, and TiN thin films on silicon wafers. The spectroscopic ellipsometry measurements revealed that HfO2 was etched by all of the metal precursors. Al2O3 was etched by all of the metal precursors except SiCl4. ZrO2 was etched by all of the metal precursors except TMA. In contrast, SiO2, Si3N4, and TiN were not etched by any of the metal precursors. These results can be explained by the stability and volatility of the possible reaction products. Temperature can also be used to obtain selective thermal ALE. The temperature dependence of ZrO2, HfO2, and Al2O3 ALE was examined using SiCl4 as the metal precursor. Higher temperatures can discriminate between the etching of ZrO2, HfO2, and Al2O3. The temperature dependence of Al2O3 ALE was also examined using Sn(acac)2, TMA, and DMAC as the metal precursors. Sn(acac)2 etched Al2O3 at temperatures ≥150 °C. DMAC etched Al2O3 at higher temperatures ≥225 °C. TMA etched Al2O3 at even higher temperatures ≥250 °C. The combination of different metal precursors with various ligands and different temperatures can provide multiple pathways for selective thermal ALE.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Picosun introduces production-scale AlN batch ALD process

ESPOO, Finland, 27th October, 2016 – Picosun Oy, the leading supplier of advanced industrial ALD (Atomic Layer Deposition) technology, now provides its customers production-scale aluminum nitride batch process with superior film thickness uniformity and fast speed. 

Clusterd ALD Batch Tool from Picosun
Aluminum nitride (AlN) is one of the key materials in semiconductor industries. Compatibility with III-V -semiconductors makes it an excellent material for power electronics, and in mobile communications technology it is used in the production of several key components such as RF filters and microphones.

“We have achieved excellent results in our new AlN batch process, so we are very happy now to offer it to our industry customers for mass manufacturing applications. AlN is a very sought-after material amongst our microelectronics production customers”, says Dr. Erik Østreng, Applications and Services Director of Picosun.

High quality, but low cost microelectronics mass production is a prerequisite also for the rapidly expanding Internet-of-Things (IoT). Soon, the IoT will require trillions of sensors, actuators, transducers, energy harvesters and other, often independently operating electronic components. AlN thin films are important building blocks also in these devices.

In all semiconductor applications, the quality of the thin films, especially their uniformity and purity, is crucial. For the end product prices to stay competitive, the films must be manufactured fast and cost-efficiently in large batches.

“We at Picosun want to offer our customers comprehensive, turn-key ALD manufacturing solutions and the best and most agile customer care. A process, tailored, optimized and ramped-up for each customer’s individual needs is the core part of this solution”, continues Mr. Juhana Kostamo, Managing Director of Picosun. Picosun’s production ALD systems are designed to fulfill the most stringent quality and reliability requirements of today’s semiconductor industry. With Picosun’s SEMI S2 compliant batch ALD tools equipped with fully automatic substrate handling in constant vacuum excellent AlN film thickness uniformities and conformality across the batch have been achieved (See table above).

Friday, October 28, 2016

Beneq News - Smart phones, Electronics and ALD Displays for Extreme Conditions

Smart ALD Phones
According to recent industry news, smartphone market leaders, such as Apple, Samsung and LG, are planning to adopt ALD-based encapsulation for flexible displays. It shows the potential of atomic layer deposition in addressing consumer product challenges and means a huge leap forward in the addressable market size of ALD. Read more
Long Live Electronics
ALD barrier films are ultrathin, pinhole-free and totally conformal. They can provide a billion times better a moisture barrier than the common alternatives. It is also possible to outsource the production of moisture barriers to Beneq Coating Services, if you want to get the best available protection without initial capital investments. Read more
ALD in Extreme Conditions
Industrial use of ALD started over 30 years ago in Espoo, Finland, in the Home of ALD, the factory which today is the Beneq headquarters. World’s first ALD-based commercial products were electroluminescent displays. The ALD use case of our Lumineq displays is in many ways quite extraordinary. Read More
High-throughput spatial ALD and optical NIR filters
If you missed the Beneq presentations in ALD2016, you can get them from our blog: Large-area spatial ALD coating equipment for Zn buffers for solar cells, OLED encapsulation, glass coating, and rear-surface passivation, and a case study about an optical NIR (near infrared) filter on the inner wall of a glass cylinder. Download posters

Ferroelectric memory startup aims at GloFo's 22FDX at Fab1 in Dresden

Here is good and promising news about the Ferroelectric Mmeorz Company (FCM) in Dresden (as published by EE Times):
TEM of FeFET processed in 28 nm high-k metal gate CMOS Technology (left) and 2D TCAD-model for device simulation (right). (Picture from NaMLab)
The company, a spin-off from the nano- and micro- laboratory (NaMLab) at the Technical University of Dresden, is making use of the recently discovered ferroelectric effect in silicon-doped hafnium dioxide. The company has made progress over the last year in terms of establishing hafnium ferroelectric memory as design choice for embedded nonvolatile memory in 28nm processes and below. 

The 64kbit active array was developed with Globalfoundries Inc. and is the subject of a paper due to be presented at the upcoming International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in San Francisco in December. Meanwhile FMC is seeking funds. Having received more than €4 million (about $4.4 million) in government grants the company says it is looking approximately €2 million more Series A funding round.

Continue reading in EE Times about FCM here: 

Ferroelectric memory startup aims at GloFo's 22FDX

Electronics EETimes (registration)-vor 20 Stunden
The company, a spin-off from the nano- and micro- laboratory (NaMLab) at the Technical University of Dresden, is making use of the recently ...

Dresden Memory Startup To Debut At Semicon Europa

EE Times-15.09.2015
The company is the product of work at NaMLab on the ferroelectric effect in thin films of silicon-doped hafnium dioxide. That work was, in turn, ...

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

UPDATE : Transition metal compounds, Belux2 - 17-18 November 2016 - imec Belgium

Registration for the workshop is still open: Many of imec's large industrial IDM partners and equipment suppliers have registered for this workshop - an excellent opportunity to meet the experts in this field!

Imec and the COST action HERALD will host a workshop dedicated to Transition metal compounds driving technological advancement. The Belux2 workshop will take place at imec in Leuven, Belgium on 17-18 November 2016.

 This 2 half-day workshop will provide an excellent opportunity to spark multidisciplinary discussions regarding the modeling, deposition and characterization of novel transition metal compounds for next generation technologies.

The program will consist of Presentations by invited speakers.
Prof. Atsufumi Hirohata (University of York, UK) - Heusler Alloy Films for Spintronic Devices
Dr. Stanislav Chadov (Max Planck, Germany) - Room-temperature tetragonal noncollinear antiferromagnet: Pt2MnGa
Prof. Andreas Michels (University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg) - Magnetic Neutron Scattering Studies on Nd-Fe-B Magnets
Prof. Thibault Devolder (Universite Paris Sud, France) - Nanosecond-Scale Switching in Perpendicularly Magnetized STT-MRAM Cells
Prof. Jens Kreisel (Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, Luxembourg) - Strain & phase transitions in oxide heterostructures and ultrathin films
Prof. Sebastiaan van Dijken (Aalto University, Finland) - Electric-Field Control of Magnetism in Multiferroic Heterostructures
Prof. Guus Rijnders (University of Twente, The Netherlands) - Piezeoelectrics
Geoffrey Pourtois (imec, Belgium) - Modeling of the impact of the chemical environment on the properties of MX2 materials for nanoelectronic applications
Stephen McDonnell (University of Virginia, US) - Deposition of and on 2D materials
Dr. Ageeth Bol (Eindhoven University, The Netherlands) - Atomic layer deposition of metals and oxides on graphene for future nanoelectronics
Prof. Alexander Shluger (University College London, UK) - Some ideas on the mechanisms of electroforming in oxides from DFT simulations
Dr. Uwe Schroeder (Namlab, Germany) - HfO2 and ZrO2 based ferroelectric materials for non-volatile memory applications
Prof. Matthias Wuttig (RWTH Aachen, Germany) - Novel Phase Change Materials by Design: The Mistery of Resonance Bonding
Dr. Ilia Valov (FZ Juelich, Germany) - Interfaces, Mobile Ions and Moisture Effects in ReRAM memristive systems
·         Poster session.
  • Walking dinner.
More information and the registration form are available at:
The fee for the workshop is only 50 euro (VAT included). The deadline for registration is 11 November 2016.
Poster contributions are welcome by abstract submission ( The deadline for abstract submission is 4 November 2016.
We really look forward to welcoming you at imec!
Best regards from the Belux2 organizing committee.
Naoufal Bahlawane, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST)
Sven Van Elshocht, imec (chairman)
Christoph Adelmann, imec
Annelies Delabie, imec
Johan Swerts, imec
Kathleen Vanderheyden, imec
Fred Loosen, imec
Please forward this email to whom it may concern.