Comet PCT has been a leader in plasma control technologies for the past six decades. It focuses on engineering and manufacturing the most advanced RF power systems and diagnostic toolsavailable on the market while driving the evolution of the semiconductor industry and providing customers with the most precise tools to master the plasma processes. We recently had the opportunity to speak with General Manager Paul Smith to find out about the company’s recent growth and new product platform.
Paul, we recognize you as a fixture at Comet, but can you tell our readers how long you have been with the company as well as your progression to your current role as General Manager? What are your main tasks in this position? Where do you hope to take the company?
I have been with Comet Technologies USA for 11 years as the US General Manager and VP of Global Product Marketing for Plasma Control Technologies (PCT). In my current role as General Manager since 2019, I have been focused locally on growing our US–based customer relationships and business in the semiconductor industry for RF Matches and Generators. In the past 10 years, we have become the market leader in RF Matches and intend to extend this market leadership by fulfilling more of our customers’ needs with our advanced RF Generator product portfolio.
2023 marks the company’s 75th anniversary. Congratulations on this milestone. How has the company changed since it was founded in 1948? What values remain today? Where do you see Comet heading in the future?
The company started in X-ray vacuum tube technology 75 years ago, perfecting high vacuum brazing technology, which enabled the expansion into vacuum capacitor manufacturing technology. Comet quickly became the market and product quality leader in these two fields. Approximately 20 years ago, Comet began vertical integration into Comet Yxlon X-ray Systems and RF Impedance Matching Networks and now our new Synertia RF Generators into the semiconductor technology space where we are recognized leaders in technology, performance, quality, and reliability.
We have heard the company has recently expanded into a large facility in San Jose to have all its divisions working together under one roof. What does this say about the future of the company?
As a result of our leadership and growth in the semiconductor industry, we have now expanded Comet Technologies USA into one location at 541 E. Trimble Rd., San Jose, CA. From an optimization and functional integration viewpoint, it made sense to bring our divisions together under roof in order to expand our new product development, R&D capabilities, and advanced plasma applications with the new Synertia RF power delivery platform. Our new facility will act as a catalyst for Comet and our customers to develop new products for the semiconductor industry.
Can you tell us about the new facility? How large is it and what state-of-the-art advancements will be available in the new facility?
The new facility is 50 percent larger than our previous facility. With close to 100,000 sq. ft., we have combined three locations into one facility. Incorporated into this facility is Comet’s smart lab technology for our expanded RF product portfolio. The facility also includes Comet Yxlon X-ray Systems’ advanced lab, showcasing our latest device imaging technologies.
From what we hear, Comet is expanding and strengthening its growth strategy by leaps and bounds, not just in terms of new facilities but also new key members of management and technology. Why is now the best time to implement these changes?
The semiconductor industry is cyclical. To best prepare for the next ramp in business, Comet understands that change is necessary. So we are using this cycle to implement changesand improvements that are required to position Comet to lead tomorrow’s state-of-the-art RF plasma control technology into advanced semiconductor manufacturing.
Last year at SEMICON West, Comet launched Synertia, an RF Delivery Platform for plasma, focusing on the synergy between the RF Generator and the RF Match Network. Why was this product significant? Can you briefly explain its purpose to our readers who may be unfamiliar with the product?
The Synertia platform represents significant technology advancements in controlling the critical plasmas that our customers need for future devices. The advancements include fast, stable, and repeatable plasma control to deliver new levels of control, enabling our customers to control plasma processes at the atomic level. The Synertia platform is enabled with advanced, integrated onboard metrology capabilities that provide real-time graphical insight into the control environment.
Synertia is unique because it is not just the levels of control but also what we are able to deliver to customers. It is the measurement suite that saves on the cost of additional equipment as well as accelerating the time to learn and, ultimately, the time to market.
Since the Synertia product launch last year, what successes has Comet seen from Synertia?
Since our launch, we have increased customer engagements and shipments worldwide. Customer feedback is extremely positive about the performance and advanced feature suite. Since the launch, we have continued to execute our product development roadmap in both power and frequency.
What can our readers look forward to from Comet during SEMICON West? What is your focus for this exhibition?
We continue customer exposure to our Synertia technology,and we encourage our customers to meet with our technology experts in San Francisco’s Moscone Center Booth 533 in the South Hall to learn more about the features and capabilities that this amazing platform can contribute to your process development speed and success. Stop by our booth toexperience the power of Synertia! We look forward to seeing you from July 11-13.