Monday, March 27, 2006

"CHIPS: Molecular Imprints adds apps, clients for step-and-flash litho"

Since netting the 2005 EE Times ACE Award for Most Promising New Technology, Molecular Imprints Inc. has garnered support for its groundbreaking step-and-flash imprint lithography (S-FIL) among its peers, its expanding customer base and its funding sources. It has also pioneered two applications for the technology--solid-state lights and hard disks--and has demonstrated how CMOS chip makers can get to the 32-nanometer node more easily with step-and-flash imprint lithography. Step-and-flash imprint lithography is based on the ancient art of embossing, adapting the technique for nanoscale patterning of semiconductor wafers. A circuit pattern is embossed into a silicon dioxide (silica) "stamp," which is then stepped and pressed into a prepared layer on a silicon substrate. Illumination by an ultraviolet flash hardens the layer into the nanoscale circuit pattern, which then can be fabricated into devices using conventional CMOS etching and deposition. Since receiving its ACE Award last March, Molecular Imprints has landed $17 million in further financing, bringing the total to $60 million since its founding in 2001. The company has also expanded by 10 employees, bringing its head count to 80, and has snagged a new vice president of marketing from a traditional lithography house, ASML. Molecular Imprints also filed its 300th patent application and had its 40th patent granted in the year since it won the award. From a technological standpoint, Molecular Imprints has charted progress by being able to demonstrate 25-nanometer features on contacts and posts.