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May 12

Updated(!) News Update: Intermolecular, Nanoimprint and Adesto

Update At Intermolecular’s Q1 2014 conference call. more details emerged about IMI’s semiconductor related activity. Q1 was obviously tough as CDP’s with ATMI and Global Foundries as well as SanDisk/Toshiba ended and precipitated an 18% head count reduction. Ouch…. The Micron program, however continues and with Dave Lazovsky, IMI President and CEO stating “Micron’s first product post Elpida acquisition incorporating technology resulting from our collaboration are slated for production later this year.

Dave reiterated the importance of the IP generated through their SanDisk/Toshiba collaboration, “ Since (the start of the CDP in 2006) Intermolecular has applied for or has been granted well over 150 U.S. patents that comprise a significant portion of the total U.S. IP landscape in ReRAM.” He also indicated that IMI is exploring “…additional avenues to monetize our ReRAM IP. In short, we are proud of our CDP team’s technology achievements in developing ReRAM and have high confidence that there exists markets for ReRAM such as the high performance (done by) storage market and a low power mobile storage applications.

Dave also made repeated references to EUV such as “….that economic viability and scalability of ReRAM does not depend on the availability of EUV lithography in the near-term.” The significance here is that SanDisk in particular have stated that EUV is necessary for manufacturing of their approach to ReRAM. /Update

Several news stories of interest to the ReRAM/CBRAM community have appeared in the last week or two. Intermolecular (IM) are an innovative company with a proprietary High Productivity Combinatorial (HPC) technology which allows them and their partners to rapidly screen materials in critical applications. They engage with a number of customers across a number of technologies through Collaborative Development Programs (CDP) where IM perform contracted R&D to advance a particular material/process to market. In the non-volatile memory field they have been engaged with SanDisk/Toshiba and Micron as we discussed here on the Forum about a year ago here and here. Last week, Dave Lazovsky, president and CEO announced that the CDP with SanDisk/Toshiba “reached its successful conclusion” and further “We believe that we have helped them develop such memory technology with the potential to be the industry leader in non-volatile memory capability”. Various observers have identified the non-volatile memory capability as 3D ReRAM although Intermolecular do not state this. In any case, this has not been seen as good news by investors as the IM share price (symbol IMI) dropped to 52 week low. Indeed times must be tough at Intermolecular right now as a head count reduction and the suspension of the CDP with Global Foundries were confirmed during the Q4 2013 earnings call earlier in February.

There is better news in the clean energy sector where IM were able to announce that their program with First Solar (CdTe for photovoltaics) and Guardian (low-E glass technology) have been renewed and extended. In addition the programs with Micron (and their now subsidiary Elpida) continue. Indeed, the program with Micron includes non-volatile memory. I would not be surprised if this is related to the Sony/Micron program developing a 16Gb CBRAM chip described at this year’s ISSCC conference although this was not confirmed.

Another item that caught my eye is that Canon have agreed to purchase the Semiconductor Imprint Lithography Equipment Business of Molecular Imprints. MII have been the pioneers in developing Nanoimprint Lithography for next generation patterning for the Semiconductor, Patterned Magnetic Media (hard drives) and LED industries. Their latest tool for the Semiconductor Lithography is shown here. Nanoimprint is seen as a next generation Lithography solution and has sparked renewed interest given the problems and delays associated with EUV Lithography and the costs of multiple patterning. More or less simultaneously, Canon and Toshiba announced that they will be developing Nanoimprint for 15nm half pitch NAND with production targeted for 2015. My Japanese is non-existent so I have had to rely on a google translation of what I believe to be the original announcement in Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun. If anyone can provide a better synopsis please let me know or leave a comment. This development of a volume manufacturing patterning technology for the sub 19nm (approximate limit of double patterning) as an alternative to EUV is perhaps long overdue. A potential impact on ReRAM is that SanDisk (Toshiba’s non-volatile memory partner) have long stated that EUV is needed for ReRAM manufacturing. So maybe ReRAM won’t have to wait for EUV after all!

Finally, congratulations to Blog sponsor Adesto Technologies. An implementation of Tensoft’s Fabless Semiconductor Management (FSM) solution integrated with Microsoft Dynamics enabled its customer, Adesto Technologies, to become a finalist in the 2014 Microsoft Dynamics Customer Excellence Awards competition.

Christie Marrian, ReRAM Forum Moderator

2 comments

  1. Fred Chen

    For nanoimprint, the burden is how to make the imprint stamp or template. The wafer lithography is now replaced by the imprint stamp or template lithography. Besides this, there is also the inspection and the followup need for repair. And the space between the wafer and imprint stamp or template needs to be clean.

    1. admin

      Fred, Good points! Alignment is also very tough. MII have demonstrated just over 10nm (mean+3sigma) which is impressive but 15nm production requires low single digits for overlay.

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