Success Story

Hitachi High-Technologies Canada


Hitachi High-Technologies Canada teamed up with the University of Toronto to develop an automated system for probing nanoelectronic structures.

As components of electronic chips continue to shrink, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to manipulate them. The features of today’s leading Integrated Circuit (IC) chips are just
14 nanometers (a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick) and getting even smaller, creating a multi-billion-dollar market need for tools that can precisely target, probe and test them.

The current process for manipulating nanoelectronic structures is time-consuming, has poor repeatability and requires a highly skilled technician. Hitachi High-Technologies Canada, an affiliate of Hitachi High Technologies, Inc., an international leader in manufacturing electron microscopes, has teamed up with the University of Toronto to develop an automated alternative. Their innovative solution couples Hitachi’s powerful microscope technology with a robotic “hand” about half the size of a human’s. Designed in Canada, the system is a first of its kind with unmatched sophistication. It is capable of probing areas on a chip that are just nanometers in size and will enable fault analysis and material testing that was previously unachievable. 

The system is the culmination of four years of collaboration between Hitachi and U of T. OCE initially supported the effort in 2010 through a Collaborative Research project that resulted in a first-generation prototype, which was granted a patent. A two-year Voucher for Innovation and Productivity II (VIP II) project that is currently underway focuses on refining the technology in preparation for commercialization.

The system is now entering the production stage. Hitachi is in talks with potential customers and expects to sell three of the systems in the next year.

Return on Innovation

  • Employs 25 people across Canada
  • Projects hiring 1-2 more engineers for this product
  • OCE investment: $304,286

OCE©2015 Last updated 10/2015