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Canon To Buy US Nanotech Chip Firm

Purchase of Molecular Imprint’s semiconductor business allows Canon to push for nanoscale manufacturing processes in semiconductors

On by Michael Moore 0

Canon is acquiring the semiconductor business of Texas-based Molecular Imprint to strengthen its chipmaking operations.

The two companies have been working together on joint development of next-generation semiconductor lithography systems, which play a key role in the chip fabrication process, alongside an unnamed major semiconductor maker since 2009.

Canon, best known for its printing and camera operations, did not disclose a price for the acquisition, but analyst estimates put the deal at around 10 billion yen ($98 m/£58.5m).

Molecular Imprint has been working with Canon and other semiconductor partners to continue Moore’s Law – and allow semiconductor density to continue to double regularly – by side stepping the resolution limits and increasing price of current lithography techniques.

Working together, the two companies want to develop g a low cost nanoscale manufacturing method, which could become widely used in industries such as display and hard disk drive manufacturing and biotechnology.

nanotechnology ©psybrain shutterstockFurther progress

“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,” Mark Melliar-Smith, CEO of Molecular Imprints, said of the deal.

The new partnership forms part of Canon’s “Excellent Global Corporation” plan, the latest phase of which launched in 2011, of which one of the strategies included business development through ‘globalised diversification’.

“Acquiring MII will strengthen our ‘Industry and Others’ business unit,” stated Canon’s CTO, Dr. Toshiaki Ikoma. “We are very excited by this innovative semiconductor manufacturing opportunity and look forward to establishing an advanced technology development capability.”

The deal will see the creation of a new company under the Molecular Imprints name headed up by current COO David Gino, who will become CEO of the new business when the deal is closed and oversee operations from Molecular’s current base in Austin, Texas.

The new company will retain key personnel and patent rights currently owned jointly by Canon and Molecular Imprints, as well as maintaining access to multiple system platforms that are designed to support the growing need for nanoscale patterning in consumer electronics and biomedical applications.

The deal is expected to be completed by April of 2014 following shareholder and government approvals.

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Michael Moore
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