Outgrowing the market through technology

The generation, collection, analysis and display of digital information has become the lifeblood of global society. Every aspect of our lives revolves around this ceaseless flow of unimaginable amounts of data, and there is no end in sight to its growth. One small example: according to the International Telecommunication Union, there are now more mobile phone subscriptions globally than there are people on the planet, and the number of 5G mobile network subscriptions is expected to grow more than 10 times from 2020 to 2025. Artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, smart homes, wearable digital devices, the countless applications of connected smart devices in almost every industrial sector: all of these developments depend on the availability of increasingly powerful semiconductors.

VAT plays a key role in this indispensable techno­l­ogy. Semiconductors contain huge numbers of transistors for storing and processing data. The newest semiconductors contain billions of transistors, or nodes, on a single chip. Nodes can be as small as a few nanometers (nm) – billionths of a meter – comparable in size to a protein molecule or a virus. Manufacturing such tiny components can only be accomplished in the purest of vacuums, as empty as possible of any particles that could interfere with the fabrication of the microchip. Our valve technology enables the creation and maintenance of such pure vacuums, and the efficient and clean transfer of wafers between vacuum chambers as they go through different fabrication processes, such as lithography, etching, deposition and cleaning. And as nodes continue to decrease in size – to get more processing power into a smaller space – the need for more fabrication steps under vacuum and ever purer vacuums grows as well.

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