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Nemotek thinks big in miniature optics

17 Jun 2009

Moroccan vendor has high hopes for its wafer-level imaging technologies.

Nemotek Technologie, based in Rabat, Morocco, has unveiled its wafer-level optics offering, and in the process brought the North African country to the attention of buyers who might not associate it with the supply of photonics components.

"Nemotek is a licensee for two complementary technologies from Tessera: OptiML and SHELLCASE," said Jacky Perdrigeat, CEO of Nemotek. "We are the first in the world to license both technologies." (Tessera Technologies is a Silicon Valley company that specializes in miniaturization technologies for next-generation electronic devices.)

OptiML wafer-level camera (WLC) technology builds thousands of lenses on a wafer at the same time, then aligns and bonds multiple lens wafers without the need for costly manual focusing. SHELLCASE covers a family of packaging techniques intended to offer thinner, cheaper and more reliable image-sensor packaging solutions.

"The combination gives us a unique portfolio, and allows our customers to work with one partner for all of their needs in wafer-level cameras, optics and packaging," said Perdrigeat.

In addition to licensing the technologies, Nemotek has now completed a series of qualification tests for its wafer-level lenses. "To be able to test what we produce and demonstrate that we are fully capable is naturally the second step that customers expect from us," commented Hatim Limati, vice-president of sales and marketing.

The qualification approach was modelled on the Standard Mobile Image Architecture (SMIA) standard for camera modules, which is used by Nokia and others. "The lenses themselves don't have any generic protocol, but we looked closely at elements of SMIA that were relevant to the lenses, and from there designed the testing procedures," noted Limati.

Nemotek's 10,000 m2 facility is located in the Rabat Technopolis Park, a hub for technology development in Morocco. "This country is no stranger to semiconductor technology, and ST Microelectronics already has a big operation in Casablanca," said Perdrigeat. "Now Nemotek is attracting back many Moroccans who have trained or worked abroad in the semiconductor sector, and who want to participate."

The location also plays a part in shielding Nemotek from the worst of the economic crunch, according to the CEO. "Conditions here are not as severe as many parts of the western world, and we are able to continue our development programme and build our business. Everywhere is suffering to some extent and, of course, we are not completely immune, but for us at this time the recession is not a decisive issue."

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