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Versum Materials’ New Technology Center Expansion in Schuylkill County

04.10.2018

Hometown, PA - Versum Materials celebrated the grand opening of its $20 million technology center. Company and government officials, as well as hundreds of other guests, gathered to commemorate the occasion with speeches, a ribbon cutting and a tour of the semi-operational facility.

 

The new center will house the company’s process materials and organometallic precursors technology organizations.

 

"This is the largest single site of employees Versum has in the world--a little over 250. We're very committed to Schuylkill County," said Ed Shober, Versum senior VP materials segment. 

 

The new R&D center created about 30 new jobs, and many of these workers hold advanced degrees in chemistry or chemical engineering.

 

The campus produces a variety of specialty gases and chemicals for semiconductor manufacturers around the world. Two of the main ones are nitrogen trifluoride, used to create clean plasma etching of silicon wafers, and tungsten hexafluoride, which the semiconductor industry uses to make thin films.

 

“The gases and chemicals that we invent, manufacture and supply here are used to make the most advanced computer chips in the world,” said John Langan, senior vice president and chief technology officer. “Our customers produce devices that are powering the digital era by processing and storing information on scales that were just unimaginable a few generations ago.

 

“But that’s not enough.”

To continue improving and shrinking microchips, Langan said, semiconductor companies are turning to 3D technology that relies on stacking silicon wafers.

 

“These complicated designs require new enabling materials and processes to make them possible,” Langan said. “That’s both the challenge and opportunity for Versum.”

 

Jim Hart, a chemical engineering technology manager, said Versum was able to make the investment in the technology center in part because it no longer has to compete for major project funding. When Versum was a division of Air Products, it vied with the core industrial gases division for capital.

 

CEO Guillermo Novo has made a point of encouraging innovation, Hart said.

“I’m amazed, you bring him a project and he says, ‘Yes! That’s a great idea, let’s do it!’” Hart said. “We want to be the premier company in this area, and he’s pointing us in that direction.”

 

Versum’s “Process Materials” team will use the facility to focus on specialty materials manufacturing improvements and the identification of new etching and cleaning gases.

 

Versum’s Organometallic team will use it to more quickly synthesize, test and deliver new organometallic precursors. This will enable faster and more comprehensive collaborations with its global semiconductor customers and partners.

 

Ed Shober, senior vice president of materials and a graduate of nearby Marian Catholic High School, said all of Versum’s customers have one thing in common: They’re working on “the next big thing.”

 

“The next big product, the next technology, the next breakthrough that boosts efficiency, power and performance,” he said. “We remain fully committed to always be looking around the corner … this investment is further validation of our commitment to invest for the future.”

 

Versum employs about 2,200 people worldwide. It had revenues of $1.1 billion in 2017.

 

Versum Materials

Electronic materials company spun off from Air Products in 2016

Headquarters: Tempe, Ariz.

Employees: 2,200 globally; 550 in the Lehigh Valley and Rush Township, Schuylkill County

Revenue: $1.1 billion in 2017

Makes: Specialty chemicals and gases for electronics manufacturing

Versum Materials opened its facility in Schuylkill County in the 1970s.


awagaman@mcall.com

Twitter @andrewwagaman

610-820-6764



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