Applied Materials buys European ALD pioneer Picosun

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Fab equipment maker Applied Materials has acquired a Finnish pioneer in atomic layer deposition (ALD) technology.

The ALD technology developed Picosun, based in Espoo, is used in chip making from logic and memory to LEDs, micromachined MEMS devices and power chips. The company has raised $17.4m in funding according to Crunchbase, but the value of the Applied deal was not disclosed.

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ALD has become a key process technique in the fabrication of logic devices. First used commercially in 45nm node manufacturing, the dependence on ALD has increased manifold today to 10nm nodes and beyond. While the 22nm node typically had 10+ ALD steps, 10nm node devices have approximately 70 ALD steps with layers of 1–5nm that needs to be conformal and defect-free. This is used for high-K dielectrics such as HfOx and AlOx, gate metal layers such as TiN and TaN, etch stop layers such as SiNx and liners and spacers such as SiOx, SiNx.

Picosun will become part of Applied’s ICAPS (IoT, Communications, Automotive, Power and Sensors) group which provides materials engineering systems. Picosun also brings deep R&D capabilities, talented teams and strong relationships with leading research institutions and universities throughout the world.

 “Picosun is a pioneer in ALD technology with products that serve fast-growing segments of the specialty foundry-logic market,” said Gary Dickerson, President and CEO of Applied Materials. “The addition of Picosun complements Applied Materials’ technology portfolio and expands our opportunities to accelerate our customers’ roadmaps.”

 “Rapid growth in the number of connected devices is driving a tremendous need for innovation in the chips used to bridge the analog and digital worlds,” said Sundar Ramamurthy, Group Vice President and General Manager of the ICAPS group at Applied Materials. “Bringing Picosun’s talented team to Applied Materials will strengthen our ability to help customers add more intelligence and functionality to a wide variety of edge computing devices.”

 “Picosun has a strong history of innovation, with roots dating back to the invention of ALD technology nearly 50 years ago,” said Kustaa Poutiainen, Former Chairman of the Board of Picosun. “As we look ahead to our next phase of growth, we believe starting a new journey as part of Applied Materials – a company we have long admired – is the best path forward and will create exciting opportunities for our employees, customers and research partners.”

The transaction has been approved by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland; no other regulatory approvals were required. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.;

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