Nascent Corvallis tech firm Inpria declared Thursday that it has raised $31 million in its third round of funding. This constitutes Oregon’s first big enterprise capital investment of 2020. The round brings the overall investment in Inpria to around $68 million.
The world’s leading chip manufacturers are among the backers. Intel, Samsung, Hynix, ALAID, and Applied Ventures have all expressed interest in the company.
Modern chip production hasn’t exactly hit a wall; however, the race towards miniaturization has come to a place where present strategies can’t reliably produce the small features that atomic-scale microprocessors need.
Intel’s newest generation of 10-nanometer chips, for instance, which launched a number of years behind schedule, was halted largely due to reliability concerns in precisely publishing circuitry so tiny.
The process of chip lithography is, at heart, a synthesis of images and etching. If a blank silicon wafer is the photo negative, the digicam is the machine projecting the image on the wafer. To get better resolution at the nanoscale, shorter wavelengths of light are utilized. EUV lithography is the must-have instrument for smaller chip production.
Enter Inpria, a spin-off from OSU’s chemistry department. Their specialty is developing photoresists that are mainly designed for publicity to extreme ultraviolet wavelengths. Inpria’s materials make use of molecules that are as much as one-fifth the size of the existing standard.
This will be a significant change in how semiconductors are manufactured and will enable for much greater precision at scale.