Canon Inc. (Tokyo, Japan) has agreed to buy Molecular Imprints Inc. (Austin, Texas), a vendor of semiconductor imprint lithography equipment business for an undisclosed amount.
While the imprint lithography business transfers to Canon, Molecular Imprints Inc. will continue to operate after the deal has concluded as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canon as an enabloer of emerging markets in displays, hard disk drives and biotechnology, the company said.
Canon is a manufacturer of KrF excimer and i-line optical lithography equipment. It began research into nano-imprint lithography in 2004 and began joint development with Molecular Imprints in 2009. Since than Canon has been working with MII and a major semiconductor manufacturer of the use of so-called Jet and Flash imprint lithography (J-FIL). The adoption of J-FIL for advanced flash memory production is expected within two years, MII said.
J-FIL differs from common imprint technologies that rely on heat embossing to melt thermoplastic solids. Instead J-FIL uses a liquid photopolymer which conforms almost instantaneously to a mask or template due to capillary forces. J-FIL uses inkjet technology and a distribution system to deposit picoliter drops according to the mask pattern. The technology has been trialed at minimum geometries below 20nm.
"After establishing a business alliance with Canon four years ago to provide a technologically enabled low-cost nanolithography solution to the semiconductor industry, I'm very pleased to acknowledge the tremendous progress we have achieved in the pursuit of this goal. Based on this success, the merger was a natural next step for our companies," said Mark Melliar-Smith, CEO of Molecular Imprints, in a statement.
Toshiaki Ikoma, CTO of Canon, said: "Acquiring MII will strengthen our 'Industry and Others' business unit. We are very excited by this innovative semiconductor manufacturing opportunity and look forward to establishing an advanced technology development capability in Austin, Texas."
While Canon ushers J-FIL into advanced semiconductor manufacturing, this merger agreement also allows for the spin out creation of a new Molecular Imprints that will retain personnel and rights to an intellectual property portfolio jointly owned with Canon
"We look forward to providing a low cost nanoscale manufacturing solution to the display, hard disk drive, biotechnology and other emerging markets," said David Gino, Molecular Imprints COO. Gino has been named as CEO of the new Molecular Imprints once the company is spun out from Canon.
The merger is expected to close by April of 2014 after normal shareholder and government approvals.
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