Omron Corp., a Japanese provider of health-care equipment and factory automation, is setting its sights on the lucrative chipmaking gear market to fuel future growth.
The Kyoto-based electronics firm is launching an X-ray scanner in the spring that will better detect flaws in advanced semiconductor manufacturing and improve production yields for the world's biggest chipmakers. The VT-X950 machine will produce 3D images of chips with sufficient resolution to identify defects at a 1-nanometer scale, at least a generation ahead of the current best-in-class silicon fabrication techniques.
Because the scans only take 30 seconds each, a chipmaker can monitor production at close to real time and make adjustments and corrections more efficiently. The yield, or proportion of defect-free chips produced from each silicon wafer, is a closely watched metric for fabricators like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co. — it affects each firm's costs and speed in fulfilling customer orders.
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“The demand trend in the semiconductor industry is to make a wider variety of chips in smaller lots, but that would never be economically feasible without real-time CT scanning,” Omron's general manager of inspection systems Kazuhisa Shibuya said in an interview.
CT, or computed tomography, is a mainstay of medical diagnostics and has also become an essential quality control tool in chipmaking. Ninety-year-old Omron, which earns more than half of its ¥876 billion ($5.9 billion) annual revenue from factory automation products, first entered the semiconductor supply chain in 2012 with the release of its VT-X900. That remains a small part of its business, largely limited to a few majorRead more on tech.hindustantimes.com