Paul van Gerven
3 February

Atomic layer deposition (ALD) equipment manufacturers Levitech and Solaytec – former competitors – have started joint development activities. The Dutch companies successfully applied for an MIT R&D cooperation subsidy, which they will use for expanding their spatial ALD spectrum and addressing new markets.

Levitech and Solaytec were both founded a little over a decade ago, Levitech as a spinoff from ASM International and Solaytec as a spinoff from research institute TNO. Levitech was not amused about being confronted with a competitor that evolved from publicly funded research and filed formal complaints at both national and European authorities.

Levitech’s Levitrack (the long machine on the left) in a solar cell production line. Credit: Levitech

Last year, however, Levitech CEO Jaap Beijersbergen told Bits&Chips the hatchet had been buried (link in Dutch). With both Levitech and Solaytec facing newly emerged Chinese competition, it didn’t make sense to continue the battle, he explained.

“That article actually got us talking, as Solaytec up until then didn’t know our attitude towards them had changed,” Beijersbergen explains. Those talks resulted in the companies working together in R&D. “As Levitech and Solaytec will each focus on different applications, it makes perfect sense to join forces.”

The MIT project involves an investment of 400,000 euros, of which about half is public money. It has an exploratory nature and will run for a year.

This article will be expanded once Bits&Chips has had the chance to talk to Solaytec.