Atom probe maker acquires competitor

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April 12, 2006 — Imago Scientific Instruments Corp., a Madison, Wis., maker of atom probe tomography tools, announced on Tuesday that it has acquired Oxford nanoScience Ltd., a UK-based competitor, from Polaron plc.

The deal, which was for a total of $4.35 million, includes $2.25 million in cash and the issue of $2.1 million in preferred stock, according to a Polaron regulatory filing with the London Stock Exchange, where its stock is listed. The stock will be issued in stages, starting with $1.5 million at completion of the deal, $500,000 after 12 months and the rest after 18 months. Polaron makes control systems for a variety of markets and had operated Oxford nanoScience as its nanotechnology division.

“We are very excited about this acquisition and the contributions it will make to our business going forward,” said Timothy Stultz, Imago president and CEO, in a prepared statement. He said he believed that combining Oxford’s technology, products, intellectual property and atom probe team with those of Imago would strengthen the company’s ability to deliver better tools.

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Atom probe tomography tools are used to generate a three-dimensional map of a sample of material. Imago’s tools excite the material sample with an electric field, which causes the atoms to peel off and be pulled toward a detector. The time-of-flight and position on the detector of each atom tells the system what kind of atom it was and where in the material it was located. For example, the tool can be used to examine the distribution of metals in an alloy in order to correlate nanoscale patterns with macroscale phenomena.

Since the tools can be used to analyze a wide variety of materials, the company is specifically targeting them for metrology and analysis in the semiconductor, data storage and advanced materials markets.

Joe Stelzer, chief executive of Polaron plc, said in a prepared statement that he believed that combining the two companies’ technologies together would result in the atom probe being adopted as a tool of choice by the semiconductor industry. Polaron will now concentrate on running its controls business, which provides systems for lighting products, building systems and other applications.


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