Modutek Continues to Supply and Support Customers during Challenging Times

modutek continues to supply and support customers during challenging times Businesses wishing to continue operations during a crisis need reliable suppliers to support them. The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging companies as never before and Modutek Corporation is playing its part. The company is staying open to support customers and is prioritizing critical components for essential businesses. Modutek has been in business for over 40 years and has weathered many challenges during that time. As a top supplier in the semiconductor manufacturing industry, the company emphasizes the business practices that help its customers.

Production of High Quality Equipment Characterizes a Top Supplier

A key component of customer satisfaction is product quality. Modutek uses top quality materials for its wet process equipment and manufactures most of its equipment in house, giving it excellent control of product quality. For semiconductor manufacturing, this means that Modutek wet benches deliver consistent performance over an extended period. Modutek ensures that materials withstand corrosive operating conditions, dosages are accurate and timing is precise while operation is safe and reliable.

Knowledge of Customer Priorities Allows a Top Supplier to Deliver Improved Performance

With its lengthy experience in the semiconductor equipment manufacturing industry and its record of working closely with its customers, Modutek can deliver innovative products that help customers improve manufacturing facility performance. Modutek is focused on wet process equipment with low particle counts, increased throughput, reduced defective output and lower use of chemicals. Its customers benefit from Modutek’s focus on equipment performance with lower costs, higher quality output and increased satisfaction from their own customers.

Innovation Drives Improved Performance

Modutek’s product development is driven by innovation. New ways of handling wafers, controlling processes and improving cleanliness produce better results. Modutek analyzes how its equipment operates for the various cleaning and etching processes. The company then identifies safety, control and output issues, trying out changes and different ways of improving the operation. Its product line includes new ways of controlling etching and innovative ways of carrying out cleaning, etching and drying. The company has pioneered a reduction in the number of process steps to improve throughput and reduce handling. Modutek’s innovative approach provides customers with equipment that operates reliably while reducing costs and improving output quality.

Top Suppliers Deliver Excellent Customer-Focused Support

In addition to supplying quality products that meet excellent performance goals and are characterized by innovative approaches, a top supplier can be judged by the level of support and service it provides to customers. To deliver excellent customer support, a supplier has to put in place customer-focused policies and have the appropriate support and service capabilities.

Modutek works closely with customers and has the required expertise because the company designs and builds its own equipment. Its engineers know exactly how each component works and how the parts combine to deliver the desired performance. Modutek can supply a full range of wet process equipment, ranging from manual stations to fully automated processes. For the automation, Modutek writes its own software, avoiding the need to call in third parties for service. As a result, Modutek can implement customer-focused support policies using its own personnel and can supply effective service with its own engineers and technicians.

Modutek Will Continue to Fulfill Its Top Supplier Role in the Current Crisis

As it has during past downturns and difficult times, Modutek will continue to act as a top supplier to its customers. Components and support for semiconductor manufacturing are critical for many industries and Modutek will provide both so its customers can operate as they see fit. At the same time, Modutek has been designated a supplier for essential businesses and will prioritize critical parts for these industries. All of Modutek’s customers can continue to depend on the company for the supply of equipment, parts, support and service.

Modutek Supplies Components to Essential Businesses During Covid-19 Crisis

modutek supplies components to essential businesses during covid 19 crisisModutek is continuing business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic because it is a supplier of critical components to essential businesses. The parts and systems Modutek supplies in wet process semiconductor manufacturing equipment are important for many businesses including those in the infrastructure and medical industries. At the same time, to support first responders and medical staff, the company is supplying components for face shields used in personal protection equipment. Modutek has re-prioritized its manufacturing capabilities to ensure that it can produce these critical components as needed.

Modutek Supplies Critical Components to the Essential Infrastructure Industries

Companies whose businesses and manufacturing plants are essential for the continuing operation of important infrastructure may request that suppliers of critical components remain in operation and continue to supply the required parts. They may make reference to the “Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response” issued by the Cyber security and Infrastructure Security Agency on March 19, 2020, and detail which of their activities is considered essential. Essential infrastructure could include the food supply, the electric grid, the oil and gas industries, communications and critical manufacturing including defense. Modutek Corporation has been asked to stay open and to continue operations to support this essential infrastructure.

Modutek Continues to Supply Critical Components to the Medical Industry

The greatest challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic are faced by the medical industry, including health care, medical devices and personal protection equipment. As a company that supplies components for medical equipment manufacturers, Modutek has been asked to continue to supply these critical components and to ensure that there is a sufficient supply. Some medical devices rely on specialized components and Modutek continues to fully support these manufacturers.

Modutek’s Semiconductor Wet Process Equipment is Essential for Many Industries

As a premier manufacturer of semiconductor wet process equipment, Modutek’s components and subsystems are an important part of the supply chain for essential industries. Because the company designs and builds all their equipment in house, the manufacturing process is flexible enough to accommodate the special needs of customers delivering essential products and services during the COVID-19 crisis. In normal times, Modutek supplies components and subsystems to many industries, including the medical industry, high technology, research labs and semiconductor manufacturing facilities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Modutek continues to support its customers with priority given to those in essential industries.

Chemical Delivery Systems Designed to Meet Facility Requirements

Different semiconductor manufacturing facilities or other users of chemicals have varying needs. The chemical delivery requirements of large chip producers differ from those of small fabricators, custom shops or research facilities. Chemical delivery system capacity, equipment layout, the number of different chemicals and the specifications for quality, accuracy and quantity may all vary, depending on the facility and the application. Suppliers of chemical delivery systems need to be able to customize their equipment to satisfy the specific requirements of different facilities. Suppliers who manufacture their own equipment in house are best able to adapt their standard products to the needs of their customers more easily than those using third party manufacturers.

Storage, Delivery and Disposal Are Key System Functions

The operation of chemical delivery systems can be divided into storage, delivery and disposal functions. These functions are impacted by chemical volumes, number of chemicals and facility layout. For operations that need a large volume of chemicals, storage and delivery options are going to be different than for small operations. The space and equipment layout at a facility also determines how the key functions are executed. A competent supplier has to be able to evaluate all the relevant factors and requirements before designing and building the custom system.

For example, for large volumes of chemical usage, storage space for chemical totes and a load cell interface for tracking chemical use are required. If small volumes of chemical are used, storage can fit into small spaces close to the point of use. Similarly, disposal differs according to the volume of waste chemical generated. Waste liquids can be neutralized close to where the waste is generated or the waste liquids can be piped away for remote neutralization and disposal.

How Chemicals Are Used Impacts System Design

A facility that uses large volumes of a few chemicals will need only very simple controls while a production line that spikes with some chemicals and mixes others will require complex controls with high precision. Requirements for repeatability, accuracy and quality control all come into the specifications for the design and configuration of the system. Sometimes manual open loop controls are adequate but for other facilities fast, closed loop automation may be critical. Software, modeling and robotics are expensive and may not be required for some applications but may be necessary for others. The chemical delivery system provided to a facility needs to incorporate each of these specific requirements.

Safe Operation Depends on the Chemicals Used

While operator safety is paramount, the actual safety features required for an installation depend on the chemicals used. Non-hazardous chemicals may not need any special safety measures while highly inflammable solvents may require explosion-proof designs with the relevant National Electrical Code (NEC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) certifications.

Safety measures for hazardous chemicals can include operational strategies to reduce worker exposure. For some applications, a degree of automation up to fully automatic systems can increase safety and reduce operator error. For others, less expensive solutions can include semi-automatic or manual systems with corresponding safety interlocks and automatic shut-down for dangerous conditions. In each case, the specific operating characteristics of the chemical delivery system have to be evaluated and a custom solution has to be designed and installed.

Modutek Can Customize Chemical Delivery Systems

Modutek designs and builds their own equipment down to programming their own software for chemical dosage and for automation. With extensive experience in the field of chemical delivery systems and in house design and manufacturing expertise, Modutek can customize their systems to the extent required. The resulting systems are safe to operate and they deliver top performance while responding exactly to customer needs. If you need a chemical delivery system for your facility, contact Modutek for a free consultation or quote.

How Specialized Manufacturing Equipment Provides Safety for Using Solvents

Semiconductor manufacturing solvent applications use specialized wet bench equipment to reduce the risk of fire and explosions from volatile solvents such as acetone. Solvents are used for operations that include stripping, cleaning and pattern transfers, and their inflammable nature means that the equipment has to meet stringent safety regulations. Safety measures focus on ensuring electrical components don’t ignite solvents or their vapors and operator safety through training. Additional safety measures include limiting access to sensitive areas and installation of fire extinguishing equipment. These safety measures provide integrated approach to solvent handling and use and ensure stainless steel solvent stations can be installed and operated safely in new fabrication lines or with existing equipment.

Special Features Satisfy Regulations and Keep Operators Safe

When working with inflammable solvents, safety regulations require specific features and additional operating measures to keep workers safe. These features can include the following:

Design to hazardous location Class 1 Division 1 or Division 2 certification.

Design electrical equipment to use low-power signals too weak to generate sparks that could set off an explosion.

Use of carboys to collect solvent waste.

Use of safety interlocks to ensure safe operation.

Process monitoring with safety alarms for dangerous conditions.

Detection of liquid spills.

Emergency power off mushroom button.

Wiring per NFPA 70 and 79.

Auto lids to seal off chemical containers.

Access controls to ensure only qualified personnel can operate the equipment.

Gaseous automatic fire suppression systems such as those using carbon dioxide.

An experienced manufacturer of wet bench equipment incorporates these features in all their solvent station designs to make sure an integrated safety concept allows for safe operation.

Modutek’s Stainless Steel Solvent Stations Meet All Safety Requirements

Modutek manufactures the SFa and the Sa series of stainless steel solvent baths for solvent applications including IPA, acetone and resist strippers. The baths meet National Electrical Code Class 1 Division 1 Group D requirements for hazardous locations and are specially designed for safe operation. Made from 304 stainless steel, the baths are inert for the solvents used. The SFa bath is a temperature controlled recirculating bath while the Sa bath is constant temperature.

The baths both include all the required safety features for safe solvent operation. With NFPA 70 and 79 wiring, fire suppression, N2 head case purge, 1-inch lip exhaust and PVC safety shields, the baths are configured to keep workers safe. Operational safety is ensured with safety interlocks, an emergency off mushroom button, a Teflon N2 gun, a de-ionized water hand spray and a continuous flow de-ionized water manifold.

While maintaining a high level of safety, the stations deliver improved yields with fast heating and accurate temperature control. With an operating temperature of 30 to 100 degrees centigrade, heaters can achieve a temperature increase of up to 2 degrees centigrade per minute. Temperature control accuracy is plus/minus 1 degree centigrade for excellent process control and reproducibility.

Modutek’s solvent stations are available in fully automated, semi-automated or manual versions. The fully automated stations further increase safety by eliminating operator error, reducing spills and ensuring that a process runs with the correct dosages and timing. Semi-automated stations give customers the benefit of robotic operation without paying the price of full automation. Manual stations retain all the safety features but don’t include automation and are less expensive. Each station can be customized to exactly meet the specific requirements of the customer.

As a wet bench manufacturer with extensive experience in semiconductor manufacturing technology, Modutek can design and build both standard and customized equipment that is safe to operate while delivering top performance. Modutek can provide free consulting to help customers clearly define needs and then propose wet bench components, standard systems or custom installations that meet the highest safety standards.

Why You Need a Wet Bench Manufacturer with In-House Expertise

As semiconductor manufacturing becomes more complex, there is an increasing demand for custom solutions to special applications. Standard systems often can’t take into account the combination of multiple steps required to produce an etched silicon wafer. Instead they end up creating inefficiencies with poor quality output. Custom solutions can consider each separate requirement and can assemble a production line in which each step is optimized for peak performance. Wet bench manufacturers best situated to satisfy the need for customization are those with in house expertise and those that manufacture the bulk of their equipment themselves.

In House Expertise Leads to Optimized Custom Designs

When a company has extensive experience as a wet bench manufacturer, it can evaluate special application requirements, identify key features that will be needed and use its expertise to design the corresponding equipment. The etching and cleaning processes to be used, the concentrations of chemicals, the timing of steps and the use of automation all impact the design of individual elements and of the complete production line. Companies that have designed many such systems will immediately know what design parameters are appropriate and proceed to the details of the customization.

A company has typically acquired its in house expertise by designing many different systems and gaining experience with the features included in each one. The design experience and data gained from testing and from customer feedback allow the company to design an optimized system without going through a trial and error phase. The result is a design based on real wet process results and one that can be built and put into operation without extensive corrections and modifications.

Custom Manufacturing Requires In-House Capabilities

Once a custom design is in place, the corresponding equipment has to be built. The complete customization process is extremely efficient when design and manufacturing take place within the same company. The supplier with in-house expertise in both design and manufacturing of wet bench equipment can use manufacturing experience to produce a low cost and easily constructed design. The company can then build the equipment to perform exactly as needed.

In house manufacturing means the company has experience with materials, knows the limitations of manufacturing processes and is aware of the capabilities of tools and equipment. Based on experience with equipment that has gone into production, a company with in house design and manufacturing expertise can offer custom solutions that really work.

In House Design and Manufacturing Leads to Effective Customer Support

Wet bench manufacturers that design and build their own equipment can provide customer support and service that quickly answers questions and solves problems. Engineers and technicians that have worked on the equipment and are familiar with it won’t have to check with third party suppliers and will be able to propose effective solutions. Companies with such in-house expertise can not only prioritize excellent customer support but can also deliver concrete results.

Modutek Has In House Design and Production Expertise

Modutek’s personnel design and build all their own equipment including design and programming of automation software. The company’s in house expertise and production know-how includes design, assembly and testing of all wet bench equipment supporting both acid and solvent applications. While the company has a complete line of standard equipment and systems, it’s in house capabilities allow it to offer customized solutions for any special applications.

Modutek has technicians and engineers familiar with electrical schematics, plumbing diagrams and software documentation. Company programmers write the automation software for semi-automatic and fully automated wet bench stations. Modutek’s in house expertise allows the company to provide the best possible designs, equipment and customer support.

Improving the KOH Etching Process Using Teflon Tanks

Etching with potassium hydroxide (KOH) is commonly used for general purpose etching of silicon wafers because the process can be tightly controlled and because it is relatively safe. During the process, the etch rate is controlled through the temperature. When KOH etching is done using Modutek’s Teflon tanks, performance can be improved through tank features such as tight temperature control and high control accuracy.

Controlling the KOH Etching Process

The KOH etch rate is affected by solution concentration, lattice orientation, doping and solution temperature. The silicon wafer is masked with a substance such as silicon nitride, which is impervious to KOH. The solution etches the parts of the silicon wafer that is not masked and a combination of the measures that affect the etch rate allows operators to etch complex shapes that are used in electronic circuits and microstructures.

A higher concentration results in an increased etch rate. The KOH concentration can range from about 10 percent to 50 percent but is usually around 30 percent by weight. KOH etching is designed to work with a fixed concentration that is determined at the start of the process and is not changed once etching is under way.

The silicon wafer crystal lattice has different atom densities in different directions, with atoms closer together in some directions than in others. As a result, KOH etches at different speeds in the different directions or lattice orientations. When designing the shapes to be etched, the silicon crystal can be placed in an orientation that produces deeper or longer etching in certain directions, giving designers control of the etched shapes.

Designers can also stop KOH etching in specific directions by doping the silicon crystal with boron. Used with the other measures influencing KOH etching, boron doping completes the initial conditions used to create shapes in the silicon wafers. Masking, concentration, lattice orientation and doping are set up to produce the desired shapes before the process begins.

Temperature Control is Key to KOH Etching

Once KOH etching is under way, temperature control lets operators affect the etch rate during the process. KOH etching is sensitive to temperature changes and the solution temperature can be used to control etching and influence the dimensions of the etched shapes. Keeping the temperature constant keeps the different etch rates in different directions constant as well. Changing the temperature changes the different etch rates and can influence etched shapes. For example, if an etching direction has been blocked by boron doping, different etch rates in the remaining directions will result in different etched shapes.

As a result, temperature control becomes critically important for precise KOH etching. Ideally, the solution heats up quickly to a set temperature and stays exactly at that temperature until the set point is changed. The solution then quickly heats up to the new temperature and again maintains it accurately. A rapid and precise temperature control system can improve KOH etching performance.

How Modutek’s Teflon Tanks Improve KOH Etching

Modutek’s Teflon tanks are designed to eliminate contamination by using an all-Teflon liquid path design. The heated tanks are available in a circulating design or with an immersion heater in the overflow weir. Standard sizes are available but Modutek can build custom sizes for special applications as required and can fit new tanks into existing wet bench equipment.

Modutek’s tanks feature an advanced temperature control system ideal for improved KOH etching. The tank heating system has a 30 to 100 degree centigrade operating range and the heating rate is 2 to 3 degrees centigrade per minute, depending on the size of the tank. Process temperature control is accurate within plus/minus 0.5 degrees centigrade and the temperature controls are accurate from batch to batch. With Modutek’s Teflon tanks, silicon wafers etched with the KOH process are uniform, resulting in high output quality. Overall facility performance can be improved and component defects reduced. Contact Modutek for a free consultation or quote on Teflon tanks or other equipment designed to meet specialized manufacturing requirements.

How Software Controls Support Unique Wet Processing Requirements

Automated software control systems can help improve wet bench operations but the software has to be flexible to meet the unique needs of a wet processing application. Software controls increase dosage accuracy, timing reliability and process safety but process parameters or even the process itself can change as regulations tighten, customer requirements change and suppliers differ. The ideal automated process station is custom built to exactly match the requirements of a particular process while retaining the software programming capability to respond to production line changes.

User Interface

Modutek’s fully automated wafer fabrication equipment features touch screens with a graphical user interface (GUI). Operators can see the status of the manufacturing process and can start and stop steps if required. Because Modutek designs and programs its software in house, the company can respond to unique requirements at the software level and can add equipment to the GUI if the process changes.

Equipment Interface

Once the operator starts a process and the software program runs, the automated system has to output commands to the equipment on the production line. Modutek uses the SECS/GEM interface standard, which stands for SEMI Equipment Communications Standard/Generic Equipment Model.

SEMI is the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International organization that developed the standard and defines the communication forms and messaging underlying the interaction of the software and the semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Using a common standard lets Modutek integrate other equipment into its production line designs and easily make changes to the software.

Automated Controllers

Controllers convert the input commands from the operators to corresponding output commands in the correct sequence to control process variables and the motion of the robotics. The sequence of commands is programmed into controllers such as PLC (programmable logic controllers) units that activate a command chain when the right input command is given. PLCs have the advantage that the programmable chains are easily re-programmed to meet changed requirements or equipment changes on the production line.

Because they design their own automation systems, Modutek can integrate higher level controllers such as Omron machine automation controllers or controllers from specific manufacturers such as Allen Bradley. Special controllers are often needed for unique functionality or for integration with existing systems.

Flow Simulation Software

Modutek’s SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software is designed and programmed by the company’s software engineers to calculate chemical dosages and track chemical usage. The software ensures that the process environment for a particular batch is always the same, producing reliable etch rates and consistent throughput. When the process changes, the software can calculate new parameters and can automatically supply the right amounts of chemicals.

Vision Sensing

Fully automated wafer fabrication equipment can benefit from vision sensing with cameras and other optical sensors. The detected images have to be processed to identify the characteristics required by the system. Vision sensing can help with measurement, wafer or die alignment, quality inspection, sorting and mounting. For example, a coating could be inspected for continuity or products could be sorted according to defined properties. Modutek can integrate vision sensing into its fully automated wet process stations and help make sure the required functions work as desired.

Data Logging

The automated system can be programmed to output process variables to data logs that allow tracking chemical use, product quality, output and similar variables. The software sends the required data over Ethernet to create reports that operators and management can use for evaluating production line performance.

Modutek Designs Advanced Software Controls for Custom Applications

In 2020, Modutek is marking their 40th year of operation as a semiconductor equipment manufacturer and wet processing equipment supplier. The company’s success is due to innovation and continuous improvement in equipment and software to benefit their expanding customer base. For any wafer processing equipment needs contact Modutek for a free consultation or quote.

Why Custom Wafer Cassettes Are an Essential Part of Wet Bench Equipment

Custom wafer cassettes made of specified materials or with specific physical characteristics are often needed in wet bench equipment for some applications. Research labs and universities may create unique semiconductor prototypes and start-ups may need sample semiconductors for testing. In each case, off-the-shelf carriers with the required characteristics are often not available. Custom wafer cassettes ordered in low volumes can meet the requirements of research and testing facilities and allow them to carry out the specialized silicon wafer fabrication they need.

Custom Wafer Cassettes are Needed for Research Applications

Research labs may need wafer carriers with unusual characteristics because they are testing new processes or using new materials. Universities may be trying to re-create a historical process or develop a new process that requires cassettes not commercially available. These organizations often need only a few of the custom cassettes to carry out their research and testing. The availability of custom wafer cassettes without a minimum order quantity is a key factor in the ability of the labs to carry out their research and testing.

Start-Ups Need Special Cassettes to Create Prototypes

When a start-up develops an innovative semiconductor product, off-the-shelf wafer cassettes may not be suitable because the product is not currently being produced commercially. The new product may require special processing and the wafer carriers used may have to use an innovative design or material as well. To produce different prototypes and test them in real-life situations, start-ups may need a series of custom wafer cassettes before they begin commercial production of their new product.

Up-graded Production Lines May Require Custom Cassettes

Modified production lines mean that some equipment has to be changed and other equipment adapted. Such modifications can take place as a result of changes in suppliers, updated regulatory requirements or new customer demands. Often parts of the production line are replaced or additional equipment is retrofitted. Large items such as tanks and baths may be kept but re-purposed. If wafer cassette operation is affected, new off-the-shelf cassettes may not be suitable and custom wafer cassettes, adapted to the new processing line, may be the best solution.

Modutek Can Provide Custom Wafer Cassettes

Modutek is a leading manufacturer of wet bench equipment that has in-house expertise to analyze customer requirements and deliver custom installations of the highest quality. With extensive experience in all aspects of wet bench technology, Modutek can offer equipment from its standard line of wet bench stations but can also meet special requirements because all equipment is designed and built in house. Once the details of an application are clear, Modutek can build the components so they meet any special requirements.

When custom wafer cassettes are needed, Modutek can design and build custom units as needed. The company has the capability to design and build special configurations and to use specific materials such as PFA Teflon, PFTE Teflon, PVDF and Natural Polypro. Custom carriers can hold between one and twenty-five wafers per carrier and carrier design can be optimized for a specific use. To emphasize its commitment to meeting the special needs of customers, Modutek does not require a minimum order quantity for custom wafer cassettes.

Semiconductor manufacturing is always complicated and a degree of customization is often needed to fulfill the requirements of a specific process. As the business environment of a semiconductor manufacturing facility changes, production lines have to be modified and the changed equipment has to be customized to fit the new configurations. Modutek can help identify such custom requirements and provide the corresponding custom equipment. Custom wafer cassettes are one specific case where Modutek can supply special components that are not otherwise available. Contact Modutek for a free consultation or quote on equipment needed for your specific requirements.

Improvements to the SPM Process Provides Significant Results

Wet bench semiconductor manufacturing relies on the SPM wafer cleaning process to quickly strip photoresist and other residue from silicon wafers. Because the hydrogen peroxide in the sulfuric acid peroxide mixture is unstable, hydrogen peroxide continuously degrades into water and the degradation is accelerated if the mixture is heated to increase the strip rate. To keep the SPM process concentration stable, hydrogen peroxide has to be added, spiking the concentration back to its original level. After several hours of repeated spiking, the mixture has to be replaced.

While other semiconductor equipment manufacturers provide less efficient solutions, Modutek has developed a “bleed and feed” method that keeps the SPM hydrogen peroxide concentration steady. The company has now collected operational results from customers using the new method and a comparison with the traditional SPM process shows substantial savings from reduced use of acid and better operational results.

How Modutek’s “Bleed and Feed” Method Works

The Modutek “bleed and feed” method uses a two-tank configuration with a clean tank and a dirty tank. Periodically an amount of mixture is drained from the dirty tank and replaced with mixture from the clean tank. The clean tank receives an amount of sulfuric acid to replace the drained amount and both tanks receive enough hydrogen peroxide to bring the concentration up to the set level.

The method is PLC-controlled with the initial drain amount, the replacement amount, the hydrogen peroxide amounts and the “bleed and feed” frequency all programmable. The SPM process concentration is maintained and the strip rate remains unchanged, but the SPM mixture has a much longer life. The cost savings result from the SPM mixture not having to be changed frequently.

The “Bleed and Feed” Method Reduces the Consumption of Chemicals

Operational data from customers shows that the Modutek “bleed and feed” method substantially reduces the use of the SPM process chemicals. Data was collected from a semiconductor manufacturing facility using a 2 6-inch carrier bath size and operating on an eight-hour shift.

The use of sulfuric acid was reduced by 77% while the volume of chemicals disposed at the end of the process went down 75%. Acid neutralizer and acid re-agent use declined as well. The reduced cost of chemicals and the savings from lower disposal volumes were substantial.

“Bleed and Feed” Can Increase Throughput

The spiking with hydrogen peroxide of the traditional SPM wafer cleaning process means that mixture replacement causes frequent down times for drain and re-pour. Use of the Modutek “bleed and feed” method reduced system drains from three times per day to once per week on average. The once-per-week change is supported by a quick-drain feature that lets the change-over to a new mixture take place quickly. Overall throughput was increased.

Operational Advantages of “Bleed and Feed”

In addition to cost savings from reduced chemical use and higher product volumes from increased throughput, customers saw operational advantages from using Modutek’s “bleed and feed” method. The reduction in chemical handling lowered the possibility of spills and increased operator and employee safety. At the same time, strip rates and other SPM process characteristics were at least maintained at previous levels or improved.

Customers Can Immediately Take Advantage of “Bleed and Feed”

The Modutek “bleed and feed” method is especially attractive to facility managers, process engineers and researchers concerned about the environmental impact of high volumes of toxic chemicals. Modutek can deliver the new method as part of its standard wet bench stations or prepare a custom design for a specific application. Since Modutek designs and builds its own equipment, the company has the expertise to propose custom solutions for any SPM process applications and allow all their customers to benefit from the new “bleed and feed” method. Contact Modutek for a free consultation or quote on equipment that is designed to meet your specific manufacturing requirements.

How the IPA Vapor Dryer Provides Superior Wafer Processing

After etching and rinsing, an IPA (isopropyl alcohol) vapor dryer can produce dry silicon wafers without watermarks and limited particle adders. In IPA drying, also known as Marangoni drying, the Marangoni effect relies on the low surface tension of IPA compared to water. When IPA vapor is introduced into the drying chamber, a surface tension gradient is established between the IPA and water on the surfaces of the silicon wafers. The surface tension gradient causes the water to flow off the wafers, leaving them clean and dry. The slow drain water feature also helps reduce particles contaminating the wafer surfaces. As a result, IPA vapor drying can be used to produce especially clean, wafers after a final etch and before the next semiconductor manufacturing step.

IPA Vapor Drying is Safe for Thin Silicon Wafers

IPA vapor dryers are especially suitable for drying thin, delicate silicon wafers. In other drying methods, the wafers are placed in a drying chamber and rotated or spun to remove the rinsing water, but handling and moving these wafers can result in damage. With the IPA vapor dryers, the Marangoni effect dries the wafers without moving them. Delicate wafers are not subjected to any stress and damage is minimized while drying performance is excellent.

IPA Vapor Dryers Improve Wafer Processing After HF Last Etching

As the final process in a silicon wafer fabrication step, the silicon oxide layer on the wafer has to be removed with hydrofluoric acid (HF) etching. The wafer is then rinsed with de-ionized water and dried before passing on to the next step in manufacturing the final semiconductor component. Providing a clean wafer with a low particle count is critical at this point because subsequent process steps are affected by the presence of contamination or particles. For high-density semiconductor components, a particle or film on the silicon wafer can prevent the correct etching of a structure or the deposit of a conductor. Because IPA vapor dryers remove water from the wafer surface and reduce particle counts with their Marangoni effect, IPA vapor dryers improve wafer processing results and ensure higher quality output.

Modutek Single Chamber Processing Delivers Further Improvements

At the end of a wet process wafer fabrication step, the wafers are etched with hydrofluoric acid in an etching chamber and then transferred to a dryer. The transfer exposes the wafers to particle contamination that can lead to elevated wafer surface particle counts, even after Marangoni drying. Modutek has eliminated this source of contamination by developing a method that allows etching and drying in a single chamber.

With the Modutek etching and drying station, hydrofluoric acid is injected into the chamber at a controlled ratio to etch the oxide layer down to the bare silicon. The wafers are then rinsed with de-ionized water to a set pH level. When the pH level is reached rinsing is complete and drying can begin.

IPA vapor is generated from a standard one-gallon bottle and introduced at the top of the drying chamber. The drying cycle takes about 10 to 15 minutes and the dry wafers are ready for their next fabrication step. The wafers are not moved during the whole etching, rinsing and drying process, reducing wafer breakage, especially for thin, delicate wafers. Since the wafers stay in the chamber from etching to drying, particle contamination is significantly reduced.

Modutek’s extensive experience in the semiconductor manufacturing industry allows it to support customers in integrating the new single chamber IPA vapor dryer in any new or existing wet processing equipment. Modutek designs and builds their own semiconductor manufacturing equipment and can therefore offer customized versions to meet the requirements of any application. The company’s staff work with a customer’s engineering team to make sure the equipment meets the customer’s process requirements. Contact Modutek for a free quote or consultation to discuss your manufacturing equipment requirements.