XACTIX and STS Unveil Comprehensive Line of Production-Oriented Xenon Difluoride Silicon Etch Systems

Jul 11, 2006, 01:00 ET from Surface Technology Systems PLC

    Semicon West, SAN FRANCISCO, July 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Developer and
 producer of equipment for manufacturing micro electromechanical systems
 (MEMS), XACTIX, Inc., and Surface Technology Systems PLC (LSE: SRTS), a
 leader in plasma process technologies required in the manufacturing and
 packaging of MEMS and advanced electronic devices, today announced that
 they plan to unveil a comprehensive line of production-oriented release
 etching tools for MEMS.
     The tools produced under this collaboration use Xenon Difluoride gas to
 perform a highly selective isotropic etch into bulk silicon or to remove
 sacrificial layers. Isotropic etching using Xenon Difluoride gas is rapidly
 becoming a key MEMS process technology and is being adopted by both large
 and small companies looking to increase yield, lower costs or increase
 device performance. The partnership between STS and XACTIX is the only
 commercially available source for the diverse Xenon Difluoride etching
 tools required to meet the needs of this rapidly growing market.
     Over the last three years the two companies have been collaborating in
 manufacturing and marketing equipment which uses xenon difluoride gas to
 isotropically etch bulk silicon or remove sacrificial layers made from
 silicon, molybdenum or germanium. The collaboration sprang from a
 realization that there is a wide diversity of requirements for release
 etching and the two companies have unique and complimentary capabilities to
 address these requirements effectively. XACTIX has seven years of
 experience specific to releasing MEMS using Xenon Difluoride and STS is the
 market leader in deep silicon etch and the provider of a wide variety of
 integrated etch and deposition products to the MEMS market.
     "The release step is different from any other etch step," says David
 Springer, XACTIX's President. "When you release a MEMS device it can move,
 and if it can move it can break. So our customers are always looking to
 perform the release etch as late as possible. Often they are etching after
 dicing or in the package just before sealing. So you need a diversity of
 etchers which can handle a diversity of substrates to service this market."
     "In addition to the different types of substrates there are an unusual
 variety of process requirements," added Michelle Bourke, Business
 Development Manager at STS. "Some customers require high uniformity because
 they are doing a timed etch into silicon, while other are removing all of
 the exposed silicon and are relatively insensitive to uniformity. Then
 there are customers who need to move from a DRIE or deposition module
 straight to release while maintaining vacuum."
     To meet these varied requirements, STS and XACTIX have collaborated to
 manufacture and market a wide range of xenon difluoride etching systems for
 commercial customers manufacturing MEMS products, including:
     1. A xenon difluoride etching module for the STS platform. This module
 can be combined with any of the STS wafer handling options and combined
 with any other STS module in a cluster format.
     2. The Xetch X3M etcher for simultaneously etching batches of wafers or
 other wafer size flat substrates in the wafer boat.
     3. The Xetch XT etcher for etching larger substrates or large batches
 of non wafer substrates.
     All of the above systems have been shipped to customers. An updated
 version of the CVE module will be available for shipment at the end of 2006
 and is ready for customer samples at this time.
     About XACTIX, Inc.
     XACTIX designs and manufactures the Xetch line of etchers, which use
 xenon difluoride gas to isotropically etch silicon, molybdenum and
 germanium. XACTIX customers are using the technology to release a wide
 variety of MEMS devices in a variety of markets, including displays,
 telecommunications, data storage, military aerospace, and a wide variety of
 sensors. Founded in 1991, XACTIX is the overwhelming market leader for
 xenon difluoride etchers world wide. For more information about XACTIX
 please see http://www.xactix.com
     About Surface Technology Systems plc
     STS designs and manufactures a range of highly specialized systems
 incorporating innovative technology used in the production of
 semiconductors and related devices and is a leader in plasma based etch and
 deposition technologies for processing non 'mainstream' semiconductor
 devices. STS serves a range of applications in several emerging sectors
 within the telecommunications, data storage, advanced packaging, MEMS and
     STS is the market leader in deep silicon etching for the growing MEMS
 market, offering patent-protected technology. In addition, STS has a strong
 presence in each of its other served markets and distributes its process
 solutions worldwide through an experienced sales and service operation. The
 Group currently markets in over 30 countries and has an installed base of
 over 850 systems. For more information about STS please see

SOURCE Surface Technology Systems PLC