Work on a unified European Union patent continues, according to an interview with the Greek R&D general secretary Demetrios Deniozos. Germany has proposed an initial stage of mobile judges and the establishment of specialised patent courts in member states to be used in a transitional period to a centralised court based in Luxembourg.
French president Jacques Chirac inaugurated the Crolles2 Alliance of Philips, Motorola and STMicroelectronics. The joint R&D centre will pioneer CMOS technology from 90nm processes to 32nm over the next five years and also includes a 300mm wafer semiconductor manufacturing pilot line, which is now beginning operation. Taiwan foundry TSMC also has participation in the work in terms of process development and alignment.
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Electron microscope and ion-beam system producer FEI opened a new 8600m2 site in Brno, Czech Republic. This new facility replaces a previous building in Brno and features extensive space for expanded production, research and development capabilities, and enhanced field service and support. FEI currently has 164 employees in the city.
Researchers from Munich-based universities and from German chemical company
Covion have developed a class of electroluminescent (EL) polymers that can
be patterned in a way similar to standard lithography photoresists (Nature,
February 20, 2003).
Infineon Technologies and Saifun Semiconductors of Israel have set up
Infineon Technologies Flash GmbH & Co. KG to develop Flash memory products.
The joint venture has plans to integrate DRAM and Flash expertise.
Micron Technology announced a series of cost-reduction initiatives including
a 10% cut (approximately 1800 people) in its global workforce. The company
says it wants to capitalise on the its aggressive migration to 0.11micron
manufacturing process technology. The company will focus on products based
on its latest generation process technology and will lower costs and
SEMIs book-to-bill ratio for North American semiconductor equipment
suppliers was 0.92 in January 2003 (preliminary). Three month average
bookings were worth $742mn, 15% up on January 2002. Billings were $806mn, a
nominal growth of 1% on January 2002. The final ratio for December 2002 was
VLSI Research released its top ten semiconductor equipment suppliers for 2002 based on revenues. US and Japanese companies dominated the listing with only one European company - lithography system producer ASML at No.3 with $1.875bn in revenues.
The worldwide semiconductor market is forecast to grow 8.9% in 2003, with revenue totalling $167bn, up from $153.4bn in 2002, according to quarterly forecast estimates from Gartner Dataquest. The slowdown at the end of 2002 is continuing in Q1 2003.
DRAM companies have been announcing chips and modules compliant with the
double data rate 400Mbits/sec (DDR400) specification. Among the chip
manufacturers with DDR400 products are Germanys Infineon Technologies,
South Koreas Samsung and Hynix and Japans Elpida (former joint venture of
NEC and Hitachi).
Ashland Electronic Chemicals is to be the primary outsourcing manufacturer for ASMLs Thermal division under a multi-year contract. The agreement includes responsibility for sourcing and procurement of all materials, and assembly and testing of all toolsets. ASML Thermal offers large-batch and single-wafer thermal processing furnaces and atmospheric pressure chemical vapour deposition (APCVD) systems.
Concrete results from the European Commissions nanotechnology projects from the Fifth Framework (FP5) programme have been put up on the Commissions Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) website.
What started as research into transistor reliability could lead to a new silicon chip based "nano-lamp". A scientist at Netherlands University of Twente, Phuong Le Minh, found that a controlled breakdown in semiconductor oxide layers of the transistor/antifuse structure of memory cells can emit light.
Researchers have used the highly conductive surface layer induced in
diamond by hydrogen termination to create in-plane gate transistors
(Applied Physics Letters, February 10, 2003). Oxidised lines of 100nm
blocked of leakage current down to 0.3pA/micron at 100V at room
TriQuint Semiconductor has completed a 1100m2 test facility in Tianjin,
China. Sawtek, a TriQuint subsidiary, will operate the plant, providing
assembly, test, mark, tape and reel support for cellphone products.
TriQuint began construction on the facility in November 2002.
Mattson Technology has signed a definitive agreement to sell its Wet
Products division to SCP Global Technologies, a wet processing equipment
provider. The sale is subject to certain conditions with closure due Q1
2003. As part of the transaction, Mattson Technology will retain the
rights to all future royalty and settlement payments under a legal
agreement with Dainippon Screen Manufacturing.
JMAR Technologies is to reorganise and sell some operations. JMAR
Research, JMAR/SAL NanoLithography, and JMAR Semiconductor will be merged
into one corporation with three divisions (Research, Systems and
Microelectronics, respectively). JMAR Precision Systems - a motion and
metrology equipment manufacturing operation - will be sold.