Among the many processing steps involved in the manufacture of semiconductor components are high-temperature operations such as diffusion of materials into the silicon wafers. Quartz tubes are an ideal vessel for these process steps because the tubes can withstand the temperatures required and are inert enough to minimize contamination.
Typically, the silicon wafers are placed into a horizontal quartz tube large enough to hold the wafers and their supports. The quartz tube cleaning station can heat the contents up to over 1000 degrees centigrade. In a diffusion process, impurities such as phosphorus are introduced into the quartz tube.
Once the process is complete, the quartz tube is contaminated and has to be cleaned for the next batch of wafers. Complete and reliable cleaning is essential for the semiconductor manufacturing process because contaminating particles can cause defects in the semiconductor components or result in inferior product quality.
How Quartz Tube Cleaning Works
Quartz tube cleaning is a custom-designed process because the dimensions and cleaning requirements of quartz tube furnaces can vary widely. Quartz tubes are mechanically delicate, so they have to be handled with care. At the same time the cleanliness requirements are rigorous so that all traces of the contaminating material have to be removed. Finally, the rinsing and drying process must not introduce any new particles into the quartz tube. The cleanliness of the tube directly impacts the performance of the semiconductor manufacturing facility.
In horizontal quartz tube cleaning stations, the tube is inserted into the cleaning enclosure and cleaned with an acid spray. The acid dissolves and removes the contaminant from the high-temperature furnace. A subsequent rinse cycle removes all traces of the acid from the tube surfaces. A drying cycle can speed up drying without introducing particles into the cleaning enclosure. Mechanical handling of the tubes reduces the possibility of breakage due to human error and minimizes opportunities for the entry of contaminating particles. Safety interlocks, exhaust fans and safety shields protect operators from the hazardous chemicals.
Modutek’s Quartz Tube Stations Offer Numerous Benefits
A key factor in effective customization of quartz tube cleaning stations is that the supplier has to design and build the stations so that they can make the required adjustments. Modutek designs and builds all process, etching and cleaning components in house at the company’s San Jose, California facility. Equipment is customized exactly according to the requirements of the specific application.
In addition to providing customized equipment, Modutek can supply the degree of automation required by the customer. Cleaning process steps can be initiated manually or the whole cycle can be completely automated. Different steps can initially be run and timed manually and then, when optimum performance is reached, automated operation can be locked in.
Full automation reduces human error and keeps operators safe by allowing them to monitor the cleaning process remotely. Automated quartz tube cleaning stations will run the same cleaning job exactly the same way, with identical timing and dosages. Results from an automated system are predictable and uniform and the system can be programmed for the best possible results.
Modutek’s horizontal quartz tube cleaning stations are an excellent solution for semiconductor manufacturers. Rugged and reliable with one-piece construction up to ten feet long, the basic units offer many options for additional features. Once the requirements of the cleaning application are satisfied, Modutek can offer design add-ons such as holding tanks, automation features, a T/C sheath cleaner or a bottle washer. Modutek is a leading semiconductor equipment manufacturer that provides continuous product innovations and improvements along with the highest degree of customer service and support.
Reviewed and Approved by Douglas Wagner
President & CEO, Modutek Corporation