Swedish startup secures funding to develop energy-efficient technology for semiconductor manufacturingFebruary 24, 2023
Lund-based startup AlixLabs has recently secured €908.7K (SEK 10 million) in funding from a range of investors, including Navigare Ventures, Almi Invest, and the ice hockey family Nylander. The funding will be used to continue developing the company’s innovative Atomic Layer Etching (ALE) Pitch Splitting technology (APS). The APS technology developed by AlixLabs has the potential to revolutionize the semiconductor industry by reducing the number of process steps required to create advanced semiconductors. This, in turn, will help to reduce the environmental impact of semiconductor manufacturing by cutting down on energy consumption and emissions.
AlixLabs was founded in 2019 in Lund as a spin-off from Lund University to enable more cost- and energy-efficient production of semiconductors, especially logic and memory components. The company has been granted patents for its APS method of splitting nanostructures using etching in the USA, Taiwan, and Europe. APS stands for ALE Pitch Splitting, and ALE is a dry etch cyclic plasma-based method denoted – Atomic Layer Etching.
“Advanced semiconductor manufacturing is spiraling in cost due to extremely costly lithography equipment (EUV), which also requires massive energy to operate. It is especially noticeable in the price of processors that power everything from mobile phones and computers to Internet servers. With our patented APS technology, the handful of companies with the most advanced semiconductor manufacturing fabs can reduce the number of process steps and save time, energy, and climate-impacting emissions. We are proud to be able to continue to develop this technology in Sweden with the support of our investors,” says Jonas Sundqvist, CEO, AlixLabs.
“We invest in companies based on science and leading-edge technology, enabling tomorrow’s industry. AlixLabs is paving the way toward a more sustainable future for semiconductor manufacturers. We also look forward to a more innovative semiconductor industry in Sweden that can contribute at the EU level,” says Alex Basu, Investment Manager at Navigare Ventures.
Modern transistors, the basis of almost all the electronics we take for granted today, has evolved to build on raised silicon fin and nanowire structures. AlixLab’s process makes it possible to split a 40-nanometer-wide feature into two features of 10 nanometers at half the pitch, which can form the basis of transistors or electrical contacts and metal interconnects. The process is scalable to smaller structures below 10 nm. It is unique in that it takes place with the help of energy-efficient etching, which reduces the use of additional expensive and energy-consuming lithography equipment.
The European Union has identified the semiconductor sector and its associated chip manufacturing as an area of particular interest. During Sweden’s presidency in 2023, the semiconductor act EU Chips Act is expected to become a reality, which is scheduled to deploy just over 43 billion euros for semiconductor companies within the Union over five years. The goal of the Chips Act is that by 2030, 20 percent of the world’s semiconductors will be manufactured within the Union. The global market is predicted to exceed one trillion (1,000 billion) euros by the next decade, up from today’s approximately 450 billion euros.
“Of these trillion euros by 2030, almost half of the sales will come from advanced segments that can use our APS technology to simplify manufacturing. Our goal is that the process we have developed will be used by circuit manufacturers in their most advanced manufacturing starting in 2025,” concludes Jonas Sundqvist.