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19 October 2006


Nanometrics introduces VerteX; plans R&D expansion at York facility

Metrology equipment maker Nanometrics Inc of Milpitas, Ca, USA has introduced VerteX, a rapid photoluminescence (PL) mapping system for compound semiconductor production control during volume manufacturing of optoelectronic devices. According to Nanometrics, the automated PL mapping system accurately predicts emission wavelengths for green LEDs at the wafer level.

VerteX’s control of laser excitation conditions allows for accurate matching of PL data to electroluminescence (EL) test information, resulting in faster run-to-run epitaxial layer growth feedback, says the company. Unlike conventional means, where the exact emission wavelength of a green LED can only be measured by an electrical test after wafer processing is complete, VerteX can forecast diode performance during the process, providing data that can be used to adjust process controls for optimal epitaxial layer growth.

“As production volumes increase and tolerances tighten for epitaxial layers, customers demand a metrology tool that not only provides accurate measurements, but that can provide the processing data required to accelerate time to yield. VerteX answers these requirements and more,” said Tom Ryan, Nanometrics’ product manager for compound semiconductors. “In the case of LED processing, VerteX makes possible accurate predictive processing metrics of green, blue and UV LED emission wavelengths at the wafer level, a capability that is unmatched in the industry.”

VerteX can also be used in manufacturing a range of optoelectronic materials, including ultraviolet diode lasers. It is Nanometrics’ first product launch since acquiring Accent Optical Technologies Inc in July this year.

As part of the Accent acquisition, Nanometrics acquired a facility located in York, UK, which has been in existence for over three hundred years, and once provided instruments for Sir Isaac Newton. The facility, established by John Worgan, developed over the three centuries and eventually became Vickers Instruments, then Bio-Rad, and in 2000 Accent Optical Technologies. Recently, the future of the York facility has been the subject of much speculation. The Press (, a York-based media source, reported that jobs at the York facility would be outsourced to Asia. In response, Nanometrics confirmed that about 25 current positions would be lost at the facility, but that R&D would remain in York and be expanded.

According to The Press report, Douglas McCutcheon, Nanometrics' executive VP, said that the redundancies would “take place over the next six to nine months up to the middle of 2007." However, he added that the company plans to create a centre of excellence for research and development and customer support at the site, on which the lease has already been extended. "We aim, over the next few years, to employ highly-skilled research and development staff to build on the 80-plus employees who will remain after next summer,” said McCutcheon