Lam Research: Leading Innovation At The Atomic Level

As a leading supplier of wafer fabrication equipment and services to the global semiconductor industry, Lam Research develops innovative solutions that help their customers build smaller, faster, more powerful, and more power-efficient electronic devices. But here is what is totally cool about this, they are literally moving atoms around to make things. That is on the top of every engineer’s top ten cool things list for sure.

Lam Research At Work

Before you start asking “Why is this cool again? How does this affect me?” let me explain. We all know that technology is now part of every aspect of our daily lives. There are devices that do everything for us and then there are devices that actually can tell us how to do our work better. The smartphone has become a force of nature that has become quite literally another organ in the human body now. If we try and look at what is at the core of this all pervasive technology that we live with, the answer is simple, the humble piece of silicon that is now more popularly called the microchip. The evolution in the capacity increase and radical size decrease of the chip has led to these massive incursions of technology into our lives.

There are chip makers who are innovating rapidly and extremely disruptively to provide chips that are capable of housing a entire system and more on them. They are iterating to make these chips smaller, more power efficient and smarter. The smartphones of today have more computing power than NASA did when they put man on the moon. We are entering into cutting edge VR and AR capable processors. At the center of all this is the ability to make better and more efficient chips that take less space and get more done. This is where Lam Research is leading innovation. And in the process, they are also providing some of the most exciting avenues of work to young engineers that quite literally involves moving atoms. Lam Research makes the equipment that makes chips. So they are like the inception point for all the cool tech that you see around you daily and those that are coming soon near you.

Lam Research

To produce the tiny, complex chips used in products such as cell phones, computing devices, and entertainment gadgets, semiconductor manufacturers require highly sophisticated processes and equipment. Lam’s products play a key role in this, allowing chipmakers to build device features that are more than 1,000 times smaller than a grain of sand. In fact, nearly every leading-edge integrated circuit made today has been processed with Lam Research equipment.

Lam’s market-leading products are used in several steps that are repeated multiple times throughout the chip-making process, including thin film deposition, plasma etch, photoresist strip, and wafer cleaning. Their customer support offerings are designed to deliver value throughout the equipment lifecycle, from system installation, production ramp, and new technology upgrades through end-of-life asset management. By drawing on multiple areas of expertise—including engineering, research and development, manufacturing, and customer support— they continue to develop the new capabilities required by the industry. This becomes even more critical given the AI and Cloud led IoT future that is knocking at our doors.

Lam Research At A Glance

Lam Research KEY FACTS

  • Founded: 1980
  • Revenue: ~$6.4 Billion (CY 2016)
  • Employees: ~8,200
  • Headquarters: Fremont, California
  • Locations: 16 countries worldwide including India
  • Nasdaq Symbol: LRCX

Recently, NanoString Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq:NSTG), a provider of life science tools for translational research and molecular diagnostic products, and Lam Research Corporation (Nasdaq:LRCX) announced a strategic collaboration to develop NanoString’s proprietary Hyb & Seq™ next-generation sequencing platform.

This collaboration brings together NanoString’s proprietary sequencing chemistry and Lam’s expertise in advanced systems engineering to enable nanoscale manufacturing, with the goal of building a clinical sequencer with the simplest workflow in the industry. The objectives of the collaboration are to complete the development of the Hyb & Seq single molecule sequencing chemistry, design and engineer a clinical sequencing instrument, develop clinical assay panels, and secure the necessary regulatory approvals.  In addition, the companies intend to explore methods for coupling the sequencing chemistry with advanced semiconductor fabrication processes to optimize the performance of molecular profiling platforms.

Under the terms of the collaboration, Lam will provide up to $50 million of funding intended to cover the costs of development and regulatory approval over a development period expected to last approximately three years, as well as advanced engineering and technical support. Lam will receive a warrant to purchase one million shares of NanoString common stock at $16.75 per share, as well as a royalty on all products developed under the collaboration. NanoString retains all rights to commercialize the resulting Hyb & Seq products, and the parties will share ownership rights in jointly developed intellectual property.

Given all this information and the digital directions that our lives and the entire world are heading towards, it would be very interesting to see where Lam Research is heading and pushing the envelope in fabrication next, for all we know, it maybe technology that is already sitting in the palm of our hands or saving our lives in the real world out there. I will be watching this company with keen interest moving forward, looks like they are key stakeholders in our future lives.