Qcept Technologies Inc., an Atlanta-based maker of wafer inspection systems for the semiconductor manufacturing industry, has raised $9.5 million in Series C funding. Existing shareholder Siemens Venture Capital led the round. Qcept has now raised nearly $25 million in total VC funding.
Qcept Technologies Inc., the developer of a new breed of wafer inspection systems for the semiconductor manufacturing industry, today announced that it has raised $9.5 million in Series C funding led by SiemensVenture Capital (SVC), a Siemens Financial Services Company. Pittco Capital Management, as well as other existing investors, also participated in the round.
This latest funding brings Qcept's total financing to nearly $25 million. Qcept will use the funds to support the company's expanding operations to meet growing demand for wafer inspection solutions that can tackle one of the semiconductor industry's most critical yield challenges-non-visual defects (NVDs). Qcept already has multiple ChemetriQ(R) systems at customer fabs for process development, pilot production and volume production applications.
“This new funding will allow Qcept to speed delivery of our ChemetriQ inspection solutions to help customers with their growing NVD-related yield issues,” stated Dr. David Lam, chairman of Qcept. “As our technology is highly complementary to optical wafer inspection, chipmakers will now be able to capture a much broader range of yield-impacting defects.”
“Qcept's innovative technology is ideally positioned to tap into the multi-billion-dollar wafer inspection market, where there is a pressing need by today's leading semiconductor manufacturers for new solutions that can address their emerging yield problems,” stated Dr. Ralf Schnell, president and CEO of SVC. “We look forward to seeing Qcept continue on its path to success as its technology gains momentum in the semiconductor industry.”
NVDs — A Growing Source of Yield Loss
Wafer cleaning and surface preparation are the most repeated process steps in semiconductor fabrication. Consequently, these steps are also among the most frequent sources of yield loss. The introduction of new materials to improve device performance has further narrowed the process margins associated with these processes, giving rise to NVDs, such as organic and inorganic residue, metallic contaminants, process-induced charging, as well as watermarks and other non-visual residue defects. Since NVDs do not scatter light, they are undetectable by optical inspection systems. According to the latest edition of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), the rapid sourcing of non-visual defects will become increasingly challenging-driving the need for affordable inspection techniques that go beyond optical microscopy and offer high resolution without sacrificing throughput.*
Qcept's ChemetriQ platform provides rapid, full-wafer, inline detection of NVDs. ChemetriQ accomplishes this by employing an innovative, non-destructive technology that detects work function variations on the surface of semiconductor wafers. These variations, which mark the presence of NVDs, are converted into image files using on-board software that can be easily ported to a fab's existing analytical tools for enhanced defect classification. The ChemetriQ platform is sensitive to 5E9 atoms/cm2 (one atom out of twenty thousand per square centimeter), which exceeds the requirements outlined in the ITRS Roadmap for metallic contamination detection down to the 22-nm node.
Leveraging ChemetriQ, semiconductor manufacturers can reduce their yield loss through improved process monitoring, and achieve faster yield ramps through accelerated process optimization. A case in point, ChemetriQ detects NVDs non-destructively in four minutes compared to up to six hours with destructive analytical methods, making it ideally suited for inline process monitoring.
* International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, 2005 Edition, Yield
About Qcept Technologies Inc.:
Qcept delivers wafer inspection solutions for non-visual defect (NVD) detection in advanced semiconductor manufacturing. Qcept's ChemetriQ(R) platform is being adopted in critical processes for inline, non-contact, full wafer detection of such NVDs as sub-monolayer organic and metallic residues, process-induced charging, and other undesired surface nonuniformities that cannot be detected by conventional optical inspection equipment. More information can be found at http://www.qceptech.com .
About SiemensVenture Capital:
SiemensVenture Capital (SVC) is the corporate venture organization for Siemens AG, one of the largest global electronics and engineering companies, with reported worldwide sales of 72.4 billion euros in fiscal 2007.
SVC's goal is to identify and fund investments in emerging and innovative technologies that will enhance the core business scope of Siemens, particularly in the focus areas of long-term growth markets such as Energy & Environmental Care, Automation & Control, Industrial & Public Infrastructure, and Healthcare.
To date, we have invested over 700 million euros in more than 100 startup companies and 40 venture capital funds, making venture capital at Siemens an integral component of the Siemens innovation and growth strategy and supplementing its in-house research and development activities (3.4 billion euros and 32,500 R&D experts in 2007).
SVC is located in Germany (Munich), in the U.S. (Palo Alto, CA and Boston, MA), in China (Beijing), in India (Mumbai), and is active through Siemens