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Applied Materials Inc  (AMAT)
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Applied Materials Inc

Business Description



Organized in 1967, Applied, a Delaware corporation, develops, manufactures, markets and services integrated circuit fabrication equipment for the worldwide semiconductor industry. Customers for these products include semiconductor wafer manufacturers and semiconductor integrated circuit (or chip) manufacturers, who either use the semiconductors they manufacture in their own products or sell them to other companies for use in advanced electronic components.

Most chips are built on a silicon wafer base and include a variety of circuit components, such as transistors and other devices, that are connected by multiple layers of wiring (interconnects). As the density of the circuit components is increased to enable greater computing power in the same or smaller area, the complexity of building the chip also increases, necessitating the formation of smaller structures and more intricate wiring schemes. To build a chip, the transistors, capacitors and other circuit components are first created on the surface of the wafer by performing a series of processes to deposit and remove selected film layers. Similar processes are then used to build the layers of wiring structures on the wafer. A typical, simplified process sequence for building the wiring portion of copper-based chips involves initially depositing a dielectric film layer onto the base layer of circuit components using a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) system. An etch system is then used to create openings and patterns in the dielectric layer. To form the metal wiring, these openings and patterns are subsequently filled with conducting material using physical vapor deposition (PVD) and/or electrochemical plating (ECP) technologies. A chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) step then polishes the wafer to maintain a flat surface. Additional deposition, etch and CMP steps are then performed to build up the layers of wiring needed to complete the interconnection of the circuit elements to form the chip. Advanced chip designs require about 500 steps involving these and other processes to complete the manufacturing cycle.

Applied operates in a single industry segment for the manufacture, marketing and servicing of integrated circuit fabrication equipment. Applied currently manufactures systems that perform most of the primary steps in the chip fabrication process, including: atomic layer deposition (ALD), CVD, PVD, ECP, etch, ion implantation, rapid thermal processing (RTP), CMP, metrology and wafer inspection. Applied’s subsidiary, AKT, Inc. (AKT), manufactures CVD systems and array testers for making flat panel displays (FPDs) used in notebook computers, desktop monitors, televisions and other applications. Applied’s subsidiary, Etec Systems, Inc. (Etec), is a manufacturer of systems that generate, etch, measure and inspect circuit patterns on masks used in the photolithography process. Applied also provides products and services to enhance manufacturing yields.

   

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