Last week’s announcement of Alchimer’s expansion into Taiwan via its Representative agreement with Kromax International Corp. further exemplifies the company’s strategy to provide not only a disruptive process, but the infrastructure with which to execute. Kromax is a Taiwanese company that represents semiconductor and flat-panel equipment manufacturers and material suppliers in the Asian market. Under the agreement, Kromax will represent Alchimer’s total through-silicon via (TSV) solution in Taiwan, including its flagship Electrografting (eG) wet deposition technology.
According to Alchimer’s recently appointed COO Erik Smith, this expansion is all part of the company’s strategic move to come to market with products; and not just the original suite of wet deposition technologies, the full solution to fill vias as well. The infrastructure now in place in Asia includes licenses with KPM in Korea and Nagase in Japan to manufacture and distribute the company’s chemistries, a tool supplier to provide systems for implementing the wet processes, a 300mm applications and demo facility in Korea and in the south of Japan, and now this agreement with Kromax in Taiwan. “The company is also making a major investment in people to bring this technology in (to Asia).” said Smith
Offering both the infrastructure and the total solutions achieves several objectives, explained Smith. By providing its own equipment set, Alchimer can guarantee the process on that equipment or as an alternative upgrade the customer’s internal equipment and guarantee it there. One reason a company would opt for the capital expense of bringing in the dedicated tool set would be in lieu of using existing tools that serve more than one purpose. Alchimer’s system performs all the steps in the process, including liner, copper seed, barrier and fill. It is available in modules so that customers can choose to do all or part of the suite. Smith said depending on the configuration, fully automated systems costs between $3.5and 4M; which he claims is 50-60% less than an equivalent dry process & ECD tool set.
When it comes to adding capacity for through silicon via (TSV) technology, everyone is still in development. Whether or not a customer will choose the AquiVia wet deposition processes over standard dry depends on the mentality of the customer, noted Smith. “How aggressive are they?” He said. “It’s a matter of going to customers who are aggressive and want to adopt technology. The ideal customer for Alchimer, then, is one with forward thinkers who are outfitting their manufacturing facilities for next-generation tools and processes.
While the semiconductor industry is its current focus, Alchimer’s management team has no intention of stopping at the semiconductor market. Smith explained that they are working with companies outside of the TSV space and semiconductors to determine other viable applications of this technology. Possibilities include special coatings for PCB boards flexible substrates, photovoltaics, and flat panel displays. “It’s all doable, we just haven’t taken the plunge in those areas yet,” says Smith.