Linde Electronics, the global electronics business of The Linde Group, has strengthened its material support for electronics manufacturing by announcing a strategic partnership with Pelchem, the global fluorochemicals specialist, to accelerate the development of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS).
MEMS are miniaturised electro-mechanical elements that are widely used in many mobile and automotive applications (e.g. accelerometers, pressure sensors, compasses, microphones). MEMS are seen as key building blocks for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications which will drive the next semiconductor growth wave.
To satisfy an increased demand for MEMS devices, Linde and Pelchem have formed a strategic partnership to distribute xenon difluoride (XeF2), a critical material used in the manufacture of MEMS. Pelchem has the largest share of the global XeF2 market and Linde’s customers include the world’s leading device manufacturers. This agreement enables the companies to take the lead in material supply for the world’s MEMS market.
The global MEMS market is set to grow at a CAGR of 13 percent to 2017 , driven largely by advancements in M2M communications. These include biomedical applications where the ability to transport fluids on a microscopic scale will enhance tasks such as drug delivery and blood analysis. M2M communications will form the basis of the internet of things that will further increase the demand for MEMS.
“This partnership is just one component of our continued investment in advanced materials to facilitate the growth of this market,” said Peter Owen, Head of Linde’s Global Electronics business and Asia Joint Venture Management. “The addition of XeF2 complements our existing portfolio of gases that help electronics manufacturers globally produce more innovative electronic devices more cost effectively. Collaborating with Pelchem enables us to support the manufacture of the latest MEMS devices as the fast growth of this sector continues.”
The properties of XeF2 make it ideally suited to the etching of MEMS silicon and control of this step becomes more crucial as the patterns etched become smaller and more complex. XeF2 is a highly selective and directional etchant of silicon, which enables complex structures to be created quickly, uniformly and at the small sizes required for integration into almost any device.
“Pelchem was the first company to supply XeF2 to the electronics industry and we have made extensive investments to meet the needs of the MEMS market, including the establishment of the world’s largest XeF2 production plant,” said Dr Petro Terblanche, Managing Director of Pelchem. “By joining forces with Linde and tapping into Linde’s extensive, world-class distribution network and infrastructure, we are well positioned to be the supplier of choice for XeF2 on a global scale.”
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