High-power lasers are used in semiconductor electronics fabrication for micro-machining by ablating selected materials to form various structures. The ’818 patent discloses a “photonic milling” system that uses a beamlet array to mill away selected conductive material (e.g., to remove an electrical connection between two conductive circuit portions). According to the ’818 patent, a pulsed laser beam is parsed into a beamlet array, and the beamlets are each modulated and focused onto the workpiece. The workpiece is moved around underneath the optical system by an x-y positioner in coordination with the delivery of the modulated beamlet array to ablate specific targets on the surface of the workpiece.
According to its website, ESI markets “innovative, laser-based manufacturing solutions for the microtechnology industry,” and its product line includes laser systems (e.g., for fuse processing, trimming, and micromachining) that can utilize the laser milling system of the ’818 patent. According to the USPTO database, ESI received 24 U.S. patents in 2010, 34 U.S. patents in 2011, and 14 U.S. patents (so far) in 2012.