Thursday, July 18, 2019

Intermolecular Stockholders Approve Merck KGaA Proposed Acquisition of Intermolecular

SAN JOSE, Calif., July 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Intermolecular, Inc. (IMI) announced today that the stockholders of Intermolecular have approved the previously announced proposed acquisition of all outstanding shares of common stock of Intermolecular by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, through its subsidiary EMD Group Holding II, Inc. 
At a special meeting held earlier today, the holders of approximately 72% of Intermolecular's outstanding common stock voted in favor of the proposed merger transaction.

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2019, subject to the satisfaction or waiver of customary closing conditions. Upon the completion of the proposed transaction, Intermolecular stockholders will be entitled to receive $1.20 in cash subject to the terms of the definitive merger agreement. Intermolecular's common stock will no longer be publicly traded following the closing and will be delisted from the NASDAQ Global Select Market.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Entegris Acquires MPD Chemicals

BILLERICA, Mass. Entegris, Inc. (NASDAQ: ENTG), a leader in specialty chemicals and advanced materials solutions for the microelectronics industry, today announced it acquired MPD Chemicals, a provider of advanced materials to the specialty chemical, technology, and life sciences industries. This acquisition will continue to grow and diversify Entegris’ engineered materials portfolio, which was recently expanded with the acquisition of Digital Specialty Chemicals (DSC).

Digital transformation is driving the development and technical capability requirements of modern technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and autonomous vehicles. To achieve the performance for these technologies, manufacturers have adopted new, more complex chip designs. These changes have increased the demands on the materials used in all steps of semiconductor processing. Along with the recent acquisition of DSC, the acquisition of MPD Chemicals will expand Entegris’ capabilities in the development and production of new organosilane, and organometallic materials. These materials are critical to innovation in the specialty chemical and semiconductor industries.

“Acquiring MPD Chemicals demonstrates our commitment to enabling the semiconductor technology roadmap through investments in purification, delivery, and advanced materials,” said Bertrand Loy, president and CEO of Entegris. “The deposition material market is one of the fastest growing market segments in semiconductor applications, driven by the adoption of new materials and more complex, chip architectures. Our recent investments in this space expands our ability to provide our customers the manufacturing scale and capabilities to enable their most demanding applications.”

Entegris acquired MPD Chemicals for approximately $165 million in cash, subject to customary purchase price adjustments. Entegris funded the acquisition from its available cash. MPD Chemicals will be a part of the Specialty Chemicals and Engineered Materials (SCEM) segment.

Monday, July 8, 2019

ASM International introduce integrated surface clean process module for Intrepid EPI

San Francisco, California – ASM International N.V. (Euronext Amsterdam: ASM) today introduced its Previum® process module for 300mm integrated pre-deposition surface cleaning, which significantly improves the performance of deposited films.

Integrated into ASM’s production-proven Intrepid ES epitaxy platform, Previum surface cleaning enables optimal quality epitaxial depositions for advanced node channel and source/drain engineering applications. Intrepid ES systems integrated with Previum modules are already in production at a leading foundry for advanced-node CMOS transistor Epi applications. 
“Previum delivers critical process capabilities to achieve high-quality epitaxy films at 5nm and smaller devices,” said Dr. Hichem M’Saad, ASM General Manager and Senior Vice President, Thermal Products Business Unit. “While the integrated surface clean process capability delivers a strong performance benefit, it also delivers on critical HVM requirements with high throughput, low defectivity, and excellent removal uniformity.” 

Previum has demonstrated excellent surface clean performance for interfacial oxide removal to create a pristine silicon surface for defect-free epitaxy film deposition. Additionally it has the capability to perform removal of both interfacial oxygen and carbon in the same chamber with a single recipe – a significant HVM productivity advantage for advanced-node CMOS processing.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Samsung, SK hynix searching for new suppliers of photoresist and fluorinated chemicals and gases due to Japanese export restrictions

The Korea Times report (LINK) that Samsung Electronics and SK hynix have been scrambling to find new supply sources for materials critical to manufacturing chips in response to Japan's export restrictions, industry officials said Thursday.  Tokyo's move is seen as retaliation against Seoul's Supreme Court ruling ordering Japanese firms to compensate colonial-era victims of forced labor.

The Japanese government started to impose tougher restrictions on exports of three items: 
  • photoresist
  • hydrogen fluoride (etchant)
  • fluorinated polyimide 
All chemicals are essentiial for producing semiconductors, and Samsung and SK hynix account for more than 70 percent of the global DRAM market and 40 percent of the NAND flash memory chip market.

"We believe the Japanese move is a clear act of economic retaliation," Hong Nam-ki, the minister of economy and finance, said on a radio broadcast. "If the problem is not settled, surely Korea needs to ask the World Trade Organization (WTO) to make a judgment. But as it takes time for the WTO to deliver a verdict, it cannot be the only solution."
Source: Korea Times (LINK)

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Oxford PV receives $43m investment from Meyer Burger and others

The British-German perovskite startup has closed series D funding with another £34 million to bring the money raised in the round to £65 million.
The German manufacturing facility is expected to begin producing perovskite-on-silicon tandem cells from the end of next year. Oxford PV has previously achieved a record efficiency of 27.3% for the technology and said it is targeting 27% for the initial phase of production.
Source: PV Magazine LINK

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Aixtron delivers 3x2" CCS MOCVD system to Nagoya University for DUV opto device research

Deposition equipment maker Aixtron SE of Herzogenrath, near Aachen, Germany has delivered a Close Coupled Showerhead (CCS) system to Nagoya University in Japan. Installed at the university’s Institute of Materials and Systems for Sustainability (IMaSS), the 3x2-inch Flip Top CCS metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) platform is intended for research on gallium nitride (GaN)-based deep-ultraviolet (DUV) optoelectronic devices.

Nagoya University is a leading Japanese research institution for semiconductor materials, especially in the field of GaN-based structures. By focusing on the development of DUV devices using Aixtron’s 3x2-inch Flip Top CCS MOCVD tool, IMaSS is targeting a wide range of future-oriented applications in areas such as agriculture, health or water purification.
Source: Semiconductor TodayLINK

Applied Materials to buy Japan's Kokusai to boost memory chip business and ALD

Here are more details and analyst responses on the Applied Materials Kokusai purchase and my own thoughts at the end:

(Reuters, LINK) - U.S. chip gear maker Applied Materials Inc (AMAT.O) on Monday agreed to buy Japanese peer Kokusai Electric for $2.2 billion from KKR & Co Inc (KKR.N), as it bets on rising demand for memory chips used in data centers, 5G phones, and AI-powered devices.  

In summary:
  • Kokusai is a small acquisition for Applied materials as compared to the previously failed mega-merger with Tokyo Electron, meaning that the road to approval should be easy. However, China’s willingness from a political standpoint is always a risk, Evercore analysts said. 
  • Apart from China, the acquisition will need approvals from Israel, Ireland, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, Applied Materials Chief Financial Officer Dan Durn said on a call with analysts.
  • Kokusai, which counts Samsung, SK Hynix, Toshiba and Micron among its top customers, reported revenue of $1.24 billion as of March 2018. 
  • Kokusai’s batch wafer processing tools are less technology intensive than Applied Materials’ single wafer tools, the recent focus on ultra-thin films has driven renewed interest in this group, DA Davidson analysts said.
So this whole purchase is really about Applied Materials getting a state of the art ALD technology for the memory business (DRAM and 3DNAND). The last readout is a bit crazy, the analyst refers to ALD as an "Ultra Thin Films". Anybody who has followed the ALD business the previous 15-20 years know that Applied Materials has repeatedly failed to take a big market share in ALD and that a Japanese Large Batch ALD reactor is one of the most advanced and reliable ALD tools out there - simply because nobody would like to trash a full load of +100 product wafers. The top three domination has been by:
  • ASM International
  • Tokyo Electron
  • Kokusai
The top 3 has been followed by Lam Research, Jusung Engineering, Wonik IPS and Applied Materials was always somewhere in this bunch. Even the inrodcution of the new Spatial ALD Olympia platform didn´t change things. It seems that Tokyo Electron took a large part of the spatial ALD market with their NT333 tool and ASM was able to defend their single wafer approach by making the XP platform super productive by adding more chamber slots (up to 16 for the latest ASM XP8 QCM).  

When it comes to IP in Spatial ALD, Tokyo Electron is No.1 followed by Applied Materials (see below).

IP Applications for spatial ALD

Magically, Kokusai settled the IP issues with ASM just before the Applied announcement (LINK). Historically, Kokusai has been masters in avoiding to call ALD ALD because of the IP situation. However, now there is a different situation and Kokusai also have single wafer ALD out there, and Applied is dominating the BEOL films deposition business so we can assume that Applied will enter top three and have a go at No 1. Exciting!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Applied Materials to Acquire Kokusai Electric

SANTA CLARA, Calif., July 01, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Applied Materials, Inc. (“Applied”) (Nasdaq: AMAT) today announced a definitive agreement under which Applied will acquire all outstanding shares of Kokusai Electric Corporation (“Kokusai Electric”) for $2.2 billion in cash from global investment firm KKR.
Kokusai Electric is a leading company in providing high-productivity batch processing systems and services for memory, foundry and logic customers. These systems complement Applied’s leadership portfolio in single-wafer processing systems. Kokusai Electric has strong customer relationships, world-class supply chain and manufacturing capabilities in Japan and Asia, and a talented team of employees.

Following the close of the transaction, Kokusai Electric will operate as a business unit of Applied’s Semiconductor Products Group and continue to be based in Tokyo, with technology and manufacturing centers in Toyama, Japan and Cheonan, Korea. The acquisition is expected to be immediately accretive to Applied’s non-GAAP earnings per share at close.

The transaction has been approved by the Applied Materials Board of Directors. The transaction is expected to close within approximately 12 months and is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

“Kokusai Electric has a strong culture of innovation along with excellent customer relationships and serves fast-growing areas of the wafer fab equipment market,” said Gary Dickerson, president and CEO of Applied Materials. “By bringing Kokusai Electric’s talented team into Applied, we believe we will accelerate innovation for customers and create significant value for our shareholders.”

“The opportunity to combine with Applied Materials will be very attractive for Kokusai Electric’s customers and employees alike,” said Fumiyuki Kanai, president and CEO of Kokusai Electric. “We are excited about the opportunity to integrate Kokusai Electric’s experienced team with Applied’s global development, customer support and services capabilities. We believe the combination will accelerate our ability to bring exciting new technologies to customers.”

Applied expects to finance the transaction using a combination of balance sheet cash and a term loan facility. Following the close of the transaction, the company will prioritize repayment of the term loan balance while maintaining its long-term commitment to return cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases.

Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC served as exclusive financial advisor, and Hogan Lovells and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP served as legal counsel for Applied Materials.

Conference Call and Webcast

Today at 8:00 a.m. EDT (5:00 a.m. PDT), Applied Materials will host a conference call and webcast related to the announcement. The live webcast along with a replay will be available on the company’s website at

About Applied Materials

Applied Materials, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT) is the leader in materials engineering solutions used to produce virtually every new chip and advanced display in the world. Our expertise in modifying materials at atomic levels and on an industrial scale enables customers to transform possibilities into reality. At Applied Materials, our innovations make possible the technology shaping the future. Learn more at

About Kokusai Electric

Kokusai Electric is a leading company in providing high-productivity batch processing systems and services for memory, foundry and logic customers. Kokusai Electric produces semiconductor manufacturing equipment that leverages world-class coating technology, delivering products and services to the world’s top manufacturers. Kokusai Electric enables the increasingly high functionality and high performance of semiconductors.