SAN FRANCISCO -- Many startups claim they will disrupt the market with novel products. Few really live up to their promises.
Alchimer S.A. (Massy, France) claims it has the right formula to shake up the market. Literally. At Semicon West, Alchimer said that Panasonic Corp. has become an equity investor in the company. Funding has been facilitated by the Panasonic Venture Group, a Silicon Valley-based unit of Panasonic R&D Co. of America.
The French company is attempting to turn the market upside down. Alchimer’s technology, dubbed electrografting (eG), is an electrochemical process that enables the growth of polymer and metal thin films on both conducting and semiconducting surfaces. The company’s deposition technology reduces overall cost of ownership for high-aspect-ratio through-silicon-via (TSV) metallization by up to two-thirds compared to conventional dry processes.
The technology enables nanometer scale thickness control from 2 to 500-nm, uniformity at wafer scale and conformal coating on patterned surfaces, even at very high aspect ratios (18:1).
The company has also gained a foothold in MEMS and other markets. It has an alliance with MEMS foundry Dalsa Semiconductor.
Overall, the French company seeks to displace physical vapor deposition (PVD) in TSV and related applications, said Steve Lerner, CEO of Alchimer. In other words, it wants to displace Applied, Novellus and other PVD tool makers. This won’t be a slam-dunk, as being a ‘’disruptive startup is not easy these days,’’ he said.
Founded in 2001 as a spin-off from the Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique, Alchimer is headquartered in Massy, near Paris. In June 2009, Alchimer raised $10 million in Series D funding to expand customer-support programs and pursue new IP development.
It continues to expand its offerings. The recently-announced AquiVia Fill process is a high-purity copper-plating chemistry that was specially developed to fill narrow TSVs with diameters of less than five microns and aspect ratios greater than 10:1. Reduced via diameter frees up substantial space on stacked chips, and improves signal integrity, where traditional manufacturing technologies have struggled to provide quality filling at an affordable cost, according to the firm.
Early February, Alchimer announced a multilevel collaboration with KPM Tech Co. Ltd., a South Korean manufacturer of plating materials and systems. KPM Tech obtained exclusive rights to produce chemicals in Korea for Alchimer's technology.
The French company does not design tools. It is pushing a wet chemistry technology. KPM is devising a tool or platform that supports the wet chemistry.