Our commitment to client relationships
Samples In – Data Out – Repeat!
This is how some analytical labs operate. But at Cerium Labs our scientists aren’t just here to run your tests and send you a report. We want to be part of your team! Beyond giving you the results you need for success, our secondary goal is to help you and your engineers understand the results and implications of those results on your products and processes. This is how we approach all the requests that come into Cerium Labs. With this client-focused philosophy, we have built many very valuable relationships over the years.
One such relationship is the one we have with Dr. Judy Runge. Dr. Runge is an expert in metallurgy with over 30 years of experience. We have worked with Dr. Runge on several projects related to the growth of aluminum oxide on aluminum also known as anodization. Anodizing the aluminum surface increases the strength of the surface. Many everyday household objects are made from aluminum that has been anodized to improve performance and wear.
One such project of note was related to an issue where the anodized aluminum on a particular product was blistering. This was not esthetically pleasing for the manufacturer of the product. Beyond this, there was also a potential reliability concern in that the coating with the blisters would wear more quickly than one without blisters. Our team of scientists, along with Dr. Runge, investigated further into the underlying issue. We ran a variety of tests to look at the physical and chemical composition of the aluminum alloy, and the oxide layer. The results pointed to an interfacial reaction that came about due to the other elemental components of the aluminum alloy that was being used for the product. This work was very valuable to the metallurgical community. Dr. Runge and Cerium’s Dr. Tim Hossain presented a paper on it titled, “Interfacial Phenomena in 7000 Series Alloys and Their Impact on the Anodic Oxide”. The paper was presented at the Aluminum 2000 conference in Florence, Italy.
While most metallurgic testing is done at a macroscale, Cerium provided a microscale look at various anodized surfaces for Dr Runge. In order to do so, we used Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) to image the fine structure of the anodized aluminum. The oxide naturally grows in a honeycomb-like structure that is both intriguing and beautiful. Like a honeycomb, there is a network of walls with open spaces or pores in the middle. Below are two images that capture this honeycomb structure remarkably. The first is a cross-section at the interface of the aluminum film where the oxide is grown. In this image, you can see the columnar structure or pillars of aluminum oxide.
The dark areas are the aluminum oxide and the bright areas are the pores. The second image is called a plan-view image because the perspective is looking down at the surface of the aluminum oxide. In this image, you can see the pores (bright) and the walls (dark). Dr. Runge was so impressed by Cerium Labs’ capability that she asked us to provide all the TEM images for her recent book, The Metallurgy of Anodizing Aluminum, Springer, 2018. We were happy to be a part of such amazing work!
Over the years we have helped people like Dr. Runge solve customer issues and contribute to the science and understanding of aluminum anodization. Cerium’s scientists want to be part of your team too. This is just one way we show our commitment to customer relationships! If you have a project or manufacturing problem, let us hear from you. As we work to solve your problem, our professional connection with you will flourish as well!
We just recently celebrated our 30th anniversary and we could not be proud of how hard our team has worked and continues to work. You don’t make it three decades without being an industry leader, and we take pride in saying that’s what we are. We love what we do, and we’re proud of our final results. It’s been this way since the very beginning!
Our Start in the 1990’s
It all began in the early 1990’s. In 1991, our lab was started as a support group to the Austin manufacturing facilities of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). The lab provided manufacturing and yield support for the three AMD semiconductor fabrication plants (fabs) in the Austin, TX area. At that time of our original founding, AMD produced Eprom, Flash, Bi-Polar, and Logic microprocessors. Just a few years later, in 1994, AMD built their world class 200 mm fab in Austin. The lab was critical in supporting the startup and was also an integral part of the launch team for AMD’s K5® Processor. This exciting product was the first independently designed, socket-compatible x86 microprocessor. Over the next several years and throughout the 1990’s, the lab continued to support AMD’s manufacturing as they went on to open manufacturing facilities in Japan and Germany.
The Early 2000’s
With the turn of the new millennium, exciting new changes came to our company. In 2004, we officially became Cerium Laboratories. With this change, we were now a wholly owned subsidiary of AMD, supporting many semiconductor OEMs. With the designation of being a brand new entity, Cerium Laboratories developed its own quality program. After rigorous planning, documenting, and validating, we became an ISO 17025 accredited testing lab. This is something which we still maintain today.
Our Development From 2011 to Today
Even bigger changes happened in 2011. At that time, Cerium Laboratories spun off from AMD/Spansion and became a fully independent company. With over 20 years of hands-on involvement in the semiconductor industry, Cerium has gained valuable expertise in process engineering, quality control, and yield management.
While we have greatly expanded over the last 30 years, we still hold onto the values and services that made us so successful in the first place. Many major semiconductor manufacturers use our services on a routine basis. We provide overflow support to these companies and serve as a backup when their internal labs are over capacity. They often need this support because they are unable to manage the volume of work or do not have the strict environmental controls necessary for ultra-pure testing. It’s a service we’re happy to provide to such an important industry!
We haven’t forgotten about the little guy, just like we used to be! This is why in addition to large OEMs, we regularly provide services to manufacturing startups that do not have the analytical equipment in-house to fully characterize their products. Analytical tools and facilities are expensive to operate and maintain, something we know very well. For these fresh new companies, it is much more cost effective to outsource their lab needs to our team of experts. We have the expertise as well as the machinery needed to get the job done right!
The Future of Cerium Laboratories
Right now, we have a global customer base and service customers in a broad range of industries. We provide chemical analysis to many semi-chemical and raw material manufacturers. In addition, we have customers in:
- Alternative energy (lithium-ion battery production, fuel cell and solar technology)
- III-V manufacturers
- Medical devices
Where are we going next? As we continue to grow our partnerships, we will be adding support for environmental testing and the oil and gas industry. We’re excited to see where the next several years take us!
Contact Cerium Labs to be Apart of What we’re Doing
Are you ready to be a part of the future success at Cerium Laboratories? We want to hear from you! Contact us and let’s begin to discuss which of our services will meet your needs.