Applied Materials exits photomask business

News reports in mid-October indicate that Applied Materials is shutting down its Etec Systems (Hayward, CA) subsidiary and getting out of the electron-beam and laser pattern-generation equipment markets.

Oct 15th, 2005

SANTA CLARA, CA - News reports in mid-October indicate that Applied Materials is shutting down its Etec Systems (Hayward, CA) subsidiary and getting out of the electron-beam and laser pattern-generation equipment markets. The company told Electronic News that “the mask market has been a challenging one for a number of years and the economics of continuing to develop mask pattern generation systems no longer makes sense for Applied Materials.” The company is thus discontinuing development of new e-beam and laser-generation tools but will continue to service its installed base.

Etec was acquired by Applied Materials in January 2000 and reportedly has been struggling financially for the past two years, although Applied continued to introduce new technologies related to next-generation pattern generation, including a new lens for its 257-nm deep-UV tool. The company’s primary competitor in this business, Micronic Laser Systems (Täby, Sweden), now holds the bulk of this market.

“Laser applications in semiconductor manufacturing continue to create more value than those in any other industry except possibly communications,” said M. David Levenson, editor-in-chief of Microlithography World. “However, the only U.S. systems manufacturers that participate now are Cymer and KLA-Tencor. Etec will be missed!”

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