Bruker ‘forces’ its way into the AFM market

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Bruker’s X-ray diffraction (XRD) division, Bruker AXS, has agreed to buy German atomic force microscope (AFM) manufacturer S.I.S. Surface Imaging Systems.

The acquisition of S.I.S. will fill a void in Bruker’s structural analysis product portfolio and enable it to tap into the atomic force / scanning probe microscopy (AFM/SPM) market that was estimated to be worth between $200m and $300m in 2007.

Bruker AXS claims to be the market leader in chemical crystallography and believes that many of the application areas of AFM and XRD overlap.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed; however Bruker expects the transaction to be completed within the next three months.

AFM is a well established method of imaging and characterising surfaces at ultra-high resolutions and is used in numerous applications in materials research, including semiconductors, data storage, electronic materials, solar cells, polymers and catalysts.

S.I.S was founded in 1993 by the company’s managing directors Dr Frank Saurenbach and Dr Hans-Achim Fuss who have driven annual revenues to around $3m.

The company currently offers AFM systems that range from bench-top high-performance AFM-only microscopes to integrated high-end AFM/optical microscopy (OM) combinations and large floor-standing AFM/OM combination instruments for the characterization of 300mm wafers in a clean room environment.

The S.I.S. core technology includes extremely compact AFM/SPM subunits which can be integrated easily with other analytical instruments such as optical microscopes, Raman microscopes or micro-hardness testers.

On completion of the acquisition, the company will be renamed Bruker Nano GmbH, although it will remain at its current headquarters in Herzogenrath in Germany.

According to Dr Frank Burgaezy, executive vice president of Bruker AXS, “many of the AFM/SPM market segments and applications overlap with those of our XRD business, making the S.I.S. products an excellent addition for our established worldwide XRD sales force.”

“This clear marketing and distribution synergy is expected to be a major driver for the growth of our new Bruker AFM/SPM product line."

Successful S.I.S. distributors will be retained after the acquisition, with Bruker AXS contributing its global materials research marketing, technical sales, demonstration, training and service capabilities as well as assisting management , to accelerate the revenue and margin growth of the future Bruker Nano GmbH.

“We are very excited about this acquisition because we see a strong potential for revenue growth using Bruker AXS' global distribution capabilities. Being part of the international Bruker AXS organization will enable us to grow our customer base around the globe and offer our existing customers enhanced applications support and service capabilities for our innovative, high quality AFM products,"​ said Dr Saurenbach.

Bruker will also be looking to boost the company’s research and development efforts, with Dr Fuss stating, “we are looking forward to strengthening our R&D activities for the AFM/SPM products under the new ownership of Bruker AXS."

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