The Taiwanese Semiconductor Startup Ales Tech Inc. that focuses on improving the techniques for locating IC circuit failure has acquired the government’s Small Business Innovation Research(SBIR) Funds and received angel investment from Legend Innovation Inc.
Difficult to locate IC circuit failure
As semiconductor device features continue to shrink, the transistor density rises as a consequence, gradually ruling out the adequacy of traditional methods to localize the fault in failing semiconductor circuits.
The current method uses the nano probing technique to conduct network analysis and further locate the fault in failing circuits and then adopts focused ion beam(FIB) to prepare the specimen and send it through transmission electron microscopy (TEM) for analysis.
The limitation of the FIB technique reaches to around 3nm to 5nm. However, to decrease the possible damage caused by the ion beam on the specimen, it restricts the ability to discriminate the area, becoming a state-of-art technology that is hard to break through, which is where Ales Tech’s portfolio comes into play.
FIB instruments bottleneck
Traditionally, FIB instruments use liquid metal ion sources that are roughly 50nm, Dr. Chang Wei-Tse who has previously worked at the Institute of Physics, Academia Sinica for many years had been researching on developing the next generation single atomic ion source that is merely the size of a single atom, about 0.3nm.
Dr. Chang established Ales Tech to commercialize this technology in the early stage development to accelerate the creation of the next-generation FIB equipment.
Nano probing is the main circuit analysis tool, the nano-sized probe contacts the specimen to make measurements. The nanoprobe being the main consumable material in the equipment set.
Ales Tech provides a better technique for 10nm and under
As semiconductor manufacturing processes enter the territory below 10nm, required probe standards are also higher. Ales Tech provides the radius curvature of the probe tip smaller than 3nm, being the most advanced in the industry.
Ales Tech provides various scales in a range of probes, including stylus tip diameter, radius curvature of the probe tip, and is available to adjust for customization.
Coming in three years
As a result of the technology breakthrough, Ales Tech was the beneficiary of the 2020 Kaohsiung City Government SBIR funds used for probe productions. This year, the company has also received angel investments from Legend Innovation Inc.
The developed single atomic ion source is expected to be carried in the next-generation FIB equipment by 2024. Ales Tech is one of the few Taiwanese firms that see results in commercializing academic research.