NanoMetrics

Company Background

Nanometrics is a leading provider of advanced, high-performance process control metrology and inspection systems used primarily in the fabrication of semiconductors, high-brightness LEDs, data storage devices and solar photovoltaics. Nanometrics’ automated and integrated systems address numerous process control applications, including critical dimension and film thickness measurement, device topography, defect inspection, overlay registration, and analysis of various other film properties such as optical, electrical and material characteristics. The company’s process control solutions are deployed throughout the fabrication process, from front-end-of-line substrate manufacturing, to high-volume production of semiconductors and other devices, to advanced wafer-scale packaging applications. Nanometrics’ systems enable device manufacturers to improve yields, increase productivity and lower their manufacturing costs (1a).  The company provides thin-film metrology and inspection systems used by makers of precision electronic equipment. These stand-alone, integrated, and tabletop measurement devices gauge the thickness and consistency of film materials used in making semiconductors, magnetic recording heads, and flat-panel displays (2).

Nanometrics was incorporated in California in 1975. Nanometrics has been publicly traded since 1984 and is listed on NASDAQ (NANO). They have been pioneers and innovators in the field of optical metrology. Nanometrics has an installed base of more than 6,500 systems in over 150 production factories worldwide (1a).  Nanometrics suffered financial hardships for many years but made a profit for the first time in five years in 2010, as sales that year shot up more than 145% (2).

Nanometrics expanded its portfolio of metrology products in 2008 when the company acquired the assets (~$3.5 million) of Tevet Process Control Technologies, a supplier of integrated metrology systems for manufacturing semiconductors and solar cells. In late 2011, it bought Germany's Nanda Technologies for $23 million. Nanda Technologies made fully automated wafer inspection systems used in the semiconductor fabrication process. With the acquisition, Nanometrics added a macro defect inspection technology to its portfolio of metrology products (2).

Suppliers and Buyers

Nanometrics’ major customers and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners include semiconductor and process equipment manufacturers (1a).  Top customers of Nanometrics include Samsung Electronics, Intel, Applied Materials, and Hynix Semiconductor. Nanometrics receives more than three-quarters of sales from outside the United States (2).

Innovation and Technology

Nanometrics’ SPARK-API macro defect inspection system has been qualified by a leading device manufacturer in Asia for advanced 2X nm devices. The system is being used in the development of advanced 3D wafer-scale packaging (WSP) processes for next-generation memory and logic devices, which are currently scheduled for high-volume production later this year.  The SPARK-API was qualified at multiple inspection steps, including bonding quality, wafer thinning and backside processing for through-silicon via (TSV) applications (1c).

Nanometrics’ has made a significant milestone marking the adoption of its optical critical dimension (OCD) technology. More than 1,000 algorithms to analyze and model critical structures, are now in production at semiconductor and data storage manufacturers around the world.  OCD technology allows manufacturers to make non-destructive measurements of film thickness, as well as the width, height, length, depth and pitch of structural features on both the surface of a layer and in previous process layers below the surface. The flexibility of OCD tools to provide all of these measurements, often simultaneously, has created a commanding position for the technology in process control metrology. Demand for OCD technology has increased as manufacturers reduce devices to smaller and smaller geometries, while adding many new process layers and steps at the same time (1d).

Products

  • Automated Standalone Metrology Systems (Atlas® II, Atlas XP+, Atlas-M, IVS-185, Mosaic II, NanoCD Suite, UniFire 7900)
  • Integrated Metrology Systems (IMPULSE, Trajectory T³, Trajectory Solar Monitor, 9010B Series, 9010T Series)
  • Defect Inspection Systems (SPARK system)
  • Materials Characterization Products (ECV Pro, HL5500, RPMBlue-FS, Vertex, Stratus, QS3300, QS2200, QS1200 FTIR, NanoSpec 3000, NanoSpec 6100) (1b).

For more information, see the NanoMetrics location page.

Sources

  1. Nanometrics Incorporated (2012). Retrieved on November 7, 2012
    1. “About Nanometrics” from www.nanometrics.com/company/profile.html
    2. “Products & Solutions” from www.nanometrics.com/products.html
    3. "Nanometrics’ SPARK Inspection System Qualified by Leading Semiconductor Manufacturer for Advanced 3D Wafer-Scale Packaging Process Control” from www.nanometrics.com/news/pr-2012-0626.html
    4. “Nanometrics Announces Advanced Metrology Milestone More than 1,000 Optical Critical Dimension Recipes in Production” from www.nanometrics.com/news/pr-2012-0109.html
  2. Hoover’s, Inc. (2012). “Nanometrics Incorporated.” Retrieved on November 7, 2012