New lithography, deposition, and measurement tools increase foundry’s capacity and capabilities in serving microelectronics companies
CAMPBELL, Calif.—Noel Technologies has expanded its wafer-fabrication facility in Silicon Valley by adding square footage and installing additional equipment that is said to boost its production capacity by 25 percent. The specialty semiconductor foundry performs process development and substrate fabrication for a variety of high-technology industries. By adding an i-line lithography system with 0.35-micron resolution, a top-down CD scanning electron microscope (SEM), and more plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) tools, the 20-year-old company has increased its range of foundry services for customers in the semiconductor, MEMS, bio-medical device, sensor, and LED markets.
“We perform many wafer-fabrication services integral to the development of the newest micro- and nano-electronic products,” said Leon Pearce, founder and chief technical officer of Noel Technologies, in a company release. “As a manufacturing partner located right in Silicon Valley, we offer chip designers a local foundry solution to shorten their R&D cycles and reduce their time to production.”
Noel Technologies is strategically positioned to provide integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) with a bridge from lab ideas to fabrication. The company bills itself as a full-service foundry that combines state-of-the-art process modules with the engineering expertise needed to help customers move seamlessly from custom design to device manufacturing. All front-end wafer processing is performed in-house under the supervision of Noel Technologies’ experienced process engineering team, eliminating the need for customers to coordinate work flows among multiple suppliers. The foundry’s process capabilities are said to enable short manufacturing lead times while improving device yield and performance.
In fabricating a wide variety of devices, Noel Technologies routinely deposits thin-film dielectrics for three main purposes: As passivation layers to insulate or isolate active areas; as hermetic layers between active areas to improve long-term reliability; and, in the case of dielectrics, such as low-pressure CVD nitride, to provide electrical components, such as breakdown voltage layers for power devices. The company also deposits thin-film metals to create an array of sheet resistance values, which designers can use in tuning the electrical characteristics of each device design.
Due to the multi-billion-dollar cost of building and operating a wafer-fabrication facility, the vast majority of semiconductor companies focus on device design and do not have the resources to manufacture products. These companies rely on partners for foundry manufacturing services. While large foundries provide fabrication services using standard CMOS processes, Noel Technologies specializes in helping chip designers that work with advanced non-CMOS materials and non-standard process flows. The company reports that it has experience and capabilities in developing novel process flows involving III-V compound materials, gold, silver, transparent conductive oxides, and emerging materials.
Unlike integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) with excess production capacity that offer foundry services, Noel Technologies does not produce its own devices and does not retain chip designers’ IP. Its business model helps to safeguard fabless customers from undue risk, the company says.
Noel Technologies, Inc. (www.noeltech.com) is an ISO 9001 registered facility that offers process development and fabrication services on wafers ranging from 50mm up to 300mm, as well as several services for 450mm. The company works with silicon, glass, transparent, and other specialty substrates, in addition to standard technologies.