CAMPBELL, CA — Silicon Valley specialty semiconductor foundry Noel Technologies, a provider of process development and substrate fabrication for a variety of high-technology industries, celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. According to market data from the industry trade association SEMI, Noel Technologies is one of only two companies still offering foundry services in Silicon Valley, where there were once dozens of wafer-fabrication facilities.
Using industry-standard process flows and materials, Noel Technologies develops and perfects semiconductor-manufacturing recipes for customers in the IC, renewable energy, automotive electronics, LED lighting, optoelectronics, MEMS and other nanoelectronics industries. The foundry can work with traditional silicon wafers up to 450mm as well as non-standard substrates including III-V compound materials, glass and fused silica.
The company provides chip makers with a bridge from IC development work to volume production, a much-needed service in proving the viability of new devices and innovative manufacturing processes. The multi-billion-dollar cost of building today’s wafer fabs has led many semiconductor companies to adopt a “fabless” strategy by outsourcing chip manufacturing to a foundry, many of which are located in Asia.
“While other companies have moved their fabrication operations out of Silicon Valley – whether in pursuit of lower labor costs, tax holidays or other financial incentives – we are dedicated to working with local and far-off semiconductor companies on their prototyping, pilot manufacturing and production needs,” said Leon Pearce, founder and chief technical officer of Noel Technologies.
To deliver short cycle times and maximize the utility of its installed equipment base, Noel Technologies operates seven days a week, 20 hours per day. Projects vary in size from single wafers to thousands per month, depending upon each customer’s unique needs.
“Besides university laboratories, there are very few facilities that offer such a broad range of capabilities and technical expertise,” said Brenda Hill, vice president of business development for Noel Technologies. “Customers rely on our know-how, fabrication skills and proven processes to quickly and economically prove out their concepts and move projects from a prototype stage to production. Because we don’t manufacture any products of our own, customers know that their IP is safe.”
Pearce and his daughter Kristin Boyce, president of Noel Technologies, co-founded the company in 1996 with three employees. Through strategic technology additions, tool acquisitions and facility expansions, they have grown the staff to 50 personnel. Hill joined the company 12 years ago, leveraging her extensive semiconductor experience to expand Noel Technologies’ foundry services and better serve its broad customer base. Together, the three senior executives focus on customer needs, emerging market requirements and new applications.
The company continues to operate at its original location and has no corporate debt, both extreme rarities in the semiconductor industry. Noel Technologies owns and operates a Class 100 cleanroom facility equipped with tools that support its process-driven services model and run by a well-trained engineering department.