Silicon Valley-Based Foundry Noel Technologies Expands Facility and Adds New Wafer-Processing Capabilities
Noel Technologies, a specialty semiconductor foundry performing process development and substrate fabrication for a variety of high-technology industries, has expanded its wafer-fabrication facility in Silicon Valley by adding square footage and installing additional equipment that boost its production capacity by 25 percent. With additions including an i-line lithography system with 0.35-micron resolution, a top-down CD scanning electron microscope (SEM) and more plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) tools, the 20-year-old company has increased its range of foundry services for customers in the semiconductor, MEMS, bio-medical device, sensor and LED markets.
“We perform many wafer-fabrication services integral to the development of the newest micro- and nanoelectronic products,” said Leon Pearce, founder and chief technical officer of Noel Technologies. “As a manufacturing partner located right in Silicon Valley, we offer chip designers a local foundry solution to shorten their R&D cycles and reduce their time to production.”
The full-service foundry combines state-of-the-art process modules with the engineering expertise needed to help customers move seamlessly from custom design to device manufacturing. All front-end wafer processing is performed in-house under the supervision of Noel Technologies’ experienced process engineering team, eliminating the need for customers to coordinate work flows among multiple suppliers. The foundry’s extensive process capabilities enable short manufacturing leadtimes while improving device yield and performance.
In fabricating a wide variety of devices, Noel Technologies routinely deposits thin-film dielectrics for three main purposes: As passivation layers to insulate or isolate active areas, as hermetic layers between active areas to improve long-term reliability and, in the case of dielectrics such as low-pressure CVD nitride, to provide electrical components such as a breakdown voltage layers for power devices.
The company also deposits thin-film metals to create an array of sheet resistance values, which designers can use in tuning the electrical characteristics of each device design. In addition, Noel Technologies’ lithography and etching services enable precise control of devices’ topographies.
Due to the multi-billion-dollar cost of building and operating a wafer-fabrication facility, the vast majority of semiconductor companies focuses on device design and does not have the resources to manufacture products. These companies rely on partners for foundry manufacturing services. While large foundries provide fabrication services using standard CMOS processes, Noel Technologies specializes in helping chip designers that work with advanced non-CMOS materials and non-standard process flows. The company has decades of experience and proven capabilities in developing novel process flows involving III-V compound materials, gold, silver, transparent conductive oxides and emerging materials.
Unlike integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) with excess production capacity that offer foundry services, Noel Technologies does not produce its own devices and does not retain chip designers’ IP. This business model helps to safeguard fabless customers from undue risk.