SAN DIEGO, CA - Cymer, the leading supplier of deep ultraviolet light sources used in semiconductor manufacturing, and Carl Zeiss SMT AG (Oberkochen, Germany), a leading supplier of optical systems for chip manufacturing and process control, have formed a joint venture, TCZ GmbH (Team Cymer Zeiss; San Diego, CA), to pursue opportunities in the flat panel display (FPD) industry. Based on their combined laser and optics expertise, the companies have developed a production tool to improve low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) processes for thin-film-transistor displays. Cymer will hold 60% of TCZ, Carl Zeiss the other 40%.
“Current FPD manufacturing processes will not meet the growing requirements for cost-effective displays, which demand both higher yield and better performance,” said Brian Klene, president and CEO of TCZ and former executive vice president of emerging technologies and applications at Cymer. “We identified an opportunity to enable display makers to realize the technical benefits of polysilicon by combining the strengths of our technology, customer service, and support infrastructure to provide a reliable, high-yield, high-performance process solution.”
According to the Cymer, large-scale introduction of active matrix LCD displays with integrated logic devices and organic light emitting diode displays has been held back to a large extent by the lack of a cost-effective LTPS solution. It is believed that LTPS represents a quantum leap forward from previous polysilicon attempts, increasing yield and quality twofold and thus providing considerable cost savings. TCZ’s thin-beam crystallization approach is expected to fill that void.
“We conceived a new way of doing low-temp polysilicon,” Klene said. “The important feature of the idea is a very long, ultra-thin beam that scans a glass panel, like a copier scans a sheet of paper. The nature of the long, thin beam means that a lot of power in the form of a high rep rate laser produces the most cost-effective solution. And this happened to be right in Cymer’s ‘sweet spot’; we didn’t plan this, it just happened that the technology Cymer was working on filled the bill.”
TCZ’s first product is the TCZ 900X, a thin-beam crystallization tool designed to improve the throughput and reduce the cost of laser crystallization for LTPS display manufacturers and provide a superior alternative to existing crystallization techniques such as excimer laser annealing and sequential lateral solidification. It combines Cymer’s 351-nm, 1000-W, 6 kHz excimer laser technology and unique two-chamber MOPA platform with Carl Zeiss SMT´s optics expertise and the motion and control competency of Carl Zeiss IMT.
“Cost and quality are everything to display makers in this market,” said CW Kim, vice president of Samsung Electronics Co. “Technology that improves the performance of displays, while at the same time increasing yields will ultimately drive the FPD industry forward.”
This is not expected to be the only new market or application outside of photolithography for Cymer’s technologies going forward. The company’s ETA group, formerly headed by Klene, will continue to scan for new applications and growth opportunities, according to Bob Akins, chairman and CEO.
“For nearly 20 years, Cymer’s light sources have been used to produce smaller circuit geometries, enabling faster chips that power the most advanced electronic devices on the market today,” Akins said. “Although we remain solidly committed to the lithography market, we plan on carrying over our history of success into TCZ.”
- Kathy Kincade