How to Qualify Which Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturers Meet Your Requirements

how-to-qualify-which-semiconductor-equipment-manufacturers-meet-your-requirementsThere are a number of things to keep in mind when you review which supplier to use from a list of semiconductor equipment manufacturers. From the ability of a manufacturer to customize solutions to meet specific client needs, to company reputation, the quality of the equipment sold, and after-sales support, there is a lot to consider. Only after you create a shortlist of potential companies to work with should you consider pricing and other minor details.

The Customization Question

Whether the need is to upgrade lines or replace old equipment with new machines, every semiconductor foundry or research facility is different, and comes with very specific requirements. Often, equipment newly purchased needs to be able to interface with systems already in place, and at other times, space or system size concerns override all other areas of consideration.

Equipment may also need to be internally customized with specific feature additions in order to be able to deliver on client requirements. Equipment manufacturers need to provide extensive experience and expertise with such customizations. Before a specific semiconductor equipment manufacturer can be chosen, they need to be able to demonstrate that they are able to work with clients, and to supply systems that are customized to their needs.

Reliability of Equipment

Once equipment has been purchased and set up, it needs to stay online for long stretches of time with minimal downtime. The best way to determine if a manufacturer is able to supply equipment of such description, is to contact references and study reliability statistics. Suppliers should be asked to furnish detailed information on scheduled downtime requirements, and logbooks obtained from actual installations.

After-Sales Support

Equipment warranties and support capabilities are the last item on the list to look at before a contract is signed with a selected supplier. Warranty policies should be simple and straightforward, and yet be comprehensive in describing what’s covered. All new equipment should typically come with at least a one year warranty.

It’s also important to check on the strength of every company’s service department. The most generous warranty policy would not be of much use if there were few personnel able to deliver on it. If there are third-party service providers that are on call, rather than an in-house department, it might be a warning sign that the manufacturer is not well-equipped to deliver a quality after-sales experience. Since third-party service providers usually deal with products from multiple companies, they are not likely to be as expert in their fields as in-house personnel. The best way in which to check on a company’s service ability is to simply call with a question prior to purchase.

Use a Supplier with a Proven Track Record

Finding the right equipment supplier is a vital step in the set-up of a semiconductor manufacturing facility or research center. The equipment from a supplier will affect future productivity, and quality of output. Since many suppliers have come and gone over the years look for one that has a proven track record that has been around for awhile. In addition the systems and equipment they sell should be continually improved to keep up with the latest technology and allow for easy upgrades.

Modutek’s Experience, Expertise and Longevity

Modutek has over 35 years of experience as a semiconductor equipment manufacturer, and has continually operated during that time to improve their equipment and address the needs of many clients. Not only does Modutek design and assemble their own equipment, all their software is designed in-house as well. They provide expert support through its own employees, rather than though agreements with third parties. In addition Modutek is committed to complete customer satisfaction, and has a record that shows it. Contact Modutek for a free quote or consultation to discuss your specific semiconductor manufacturing equipment requirements.

 

How New Equipment Has Improved the Silicon Nitride Wet Etching Process

how-new-equipment-has-improved-the-silicon-nitride-wet-etching-processThe silicon nitride wet etching process is difficult to control safely but is a key component of semiconductor wafer manufacturing. The process uses phosphoric acid to remove silicon nitride masks from silicon wafers to allow the clean wafers to undergo further fabrication steps. The hot phosphoric acid and water mixture is unstable and requires periodic addition of small quantities of water, but adding water to phosphoric acid may produce a bump. Modutek has developed a new approach to control the nitride etching process safely and accurately while achieving high etching rates.

How the Silicon Nitride Wet Etching Process Works

The etching of silicon nitride masks with phosphoric acid is optimized at a temperature of 160 degrees centigrade for a mixture of 85 percent acid and 15 percent deionized water. At this temperature, the mixture boils and some water is lost as steam. The lost water has to periodically be replaced, but adding water to phosphoric acid can be dangerous. The water may not immediately mix with the acid, instead forming a film on top of the mixture. If the film suddenly mixes with the acid, introducing a large amount of water into the mixture at once, a bump can result.

In order to optimize etching performance small amounts of water are added periodically which immediately mix with the acid to maintain the temperature at the ideal 160 degrees centigrade. If too much water is added, the temperature of the mixture may drop and the mixture may stop boiling, allowing the water film to form and create a dangerous situation. If too little water is added, the temperature of the mixture will increase and even more water will be lost. Modutek has new equipment provides an innovative control strategy that addresses these issues and delivers excellent etching performance.

Modutek’s Nb Series Silicon Nitride Wet Etching Bath

Modutek’s new Nb series bath provides tight control of the bath temperature while ensuring a safe operation and superior etching of the silicon nitride masks. In addition to the new control strategy, the series Nb baths offer additional safety features that make sure the dangerous condition in which large amounts of water are mixed with hot phosphoric acid is avoided.

In their new silicon nitride wet etching equipment, Modutek uses the acid mixture concentration as a reference value for adding small amounts of deionized water. At normal operation, the bath heater is on and the mixture is always boiling at the normal mixture boiling point of 160 degrees centigrade.

The boiling point of the mixture varies with the concentration. As water is lost and the mixture concentration rises, the boiling point increases as well and the mixture temperature starts to rise above 160 degrees centigrade. This rise triggers the addition of a small amount of deionized water. Since the mixture is always boiling because the heater is always on, the deionized water is immediately mixed in with the boiling acid, the concentration of the acid is reduced and the mixture boiling point decreases back down to 160 degrees centigrade.

To guard against the addition of water when the mixture is not boiling, a thermocouple sensor above the boiling mixture detects the presence of steam and closes the water valve when no steam is present. This additional safety feature ensures that a dangerous water film cannot form even under abnormal conditions such as heather failure.

Modutek has been testing and fine tuning the new system with Nb silicon nitride wet etching baths to customers in manual, semi automated and fully automated wet bench stations. Semiconductor fabrication facilities and research centers using the new equipment have achieved an average etch rate of 65 angstroms per minute while limiting oxide etch as the controls ensure safe operation at a consistent and optimum operating point.

 

 

How to Safely Use Solvents for Wafer Processing

how-to-safely-use-solvents-for-wafer-processingAt semiconductor research centers and foundries, solvent wet bench stations provide a critical role in the semiconductor fabrication process. These stations are designed for operations that include substrate cleaning, photoresist stripping and liftoff pattern transfers. Since the solvents are often highly inflammable, wet bench equipment needs to be designed with stringent compliance to safety codes.

Equipping for safety

Precautions related to fire safety and electrical safety is among the most basic requirements in wet bench station design. Fire suppression can involve the application of spark-resistant electrical design all around, and the provision of extinguisher equipment. Solvent wet bench stations must be designed to meet Class 1 Div 2 certifications, and incorporate a carbon dioxide (CO2) fire system.

Safety alarms: Exhaust, CTA and N2 safety interlocks should monitor for use within acceptable ranges. Safety doors on the head case and elsewhere should be monitored during use and should be able to shut down operation if they are opened during use. Float switches should detect liquid spills on the floor of the bench. Differences in pressure between the exhaust on the bench and the rest of the room should be monitored through the use of photohelic gauges (low readings indicating incorrect operation should sound an alarm).

Carboy collection: Since solvent waste should never be sent down the drain, carboys help collect waste for containment. Multiple containment volume sizes are available.  All come with current safety interface.

Heated solvent baths: Temperature control is achieved in many ways, and heated baths are one of them. They should be used to control the temperature of the solvents being used. Temperature controllers should be used both to raise and lower temperatures and to monitor temperatures.

Process timers: These vital pieces of equipment should be mounted to the head case to ensure that personnel are able to keep track of how long each process is to run.

Restrictions on use: A login system should ensure that only authorized individuals are able to access the bench.

In many cases, safety comes from simpler approaches — the use of auto lids made of Teflon or stainless steel to help seal off chemical containers.

Modutek’s Solvent Wet Bench Equipment

Available in manual, dry-to-dry, semi-and fully-automated designs, Modutek’s stainless steel solvent stations are constructed all through using 304 stainless steel. Solvent applications require the use of this material. From photoresist to IPA, and acetone, these stations are suitable for critical operations in the wafer processing activities. From solid works simulation to professional flow simulation, many critical flow characteristics are available. Improvements to productivity are achieved through the use of Modutek’s advanced software.

Modutek’s safety design for solvent processing involves every required feature. With wiring specified to NFPA 70 & 79 codes, emergency power off design for every safety interlock, lip exhausts on all solvent tanks, N2 head case purge design, photohelic EPO interlocks, safety shields, Teflon N2 guns, and continuous flow of the water manifolds, Modutek’s designs are among the safest of all wet stations.

With a chemical management interface, a PCL with touchscreen GUI, a rear access design, Teflon plumbing throughout, certification to the CE Mark, and seismic certification, Modutek’s equipment incorporates features beyond legally required safety measures.

Modutek’s Wet Bench Design and Build Process

Wet bench construction is a complicated process, and Modutek provides systems that are designed to meet the requirements of specific applications of individual customers. With 35 years in the business, Modutek understands that acid and solvent processing for micro fabrication requires customized solutions. Modutek’s designs and builds all their wet bench stations in house to ensure every part of the system provides reliable performance. If you need a solvent wet bench station designed and built to meet your requirement s contact Modutek for a free consultation or quote.

 

Improving Wafer Processing with Automated Equipment

Fully and semi-automated wafer processing equipment can help improve wafer output quality by providing consistent chemical processing dosages and timing, however these settings must be first be determined. One way to find optimal process settings is to operate in manual and then in semi-automated mode where settings can easily be adjusted. This is especially true of new process development where the exact parameters are not known. Wafer fabrication facilities can first try out initial settings in manual mode and tweak or “fine tune” them to obtain the desired output. Using semi-automated stations to run the parts of the process that are finalized while making additional adjustments gives optimal results. These can then be made permanent in a fully automatic station.

Steps for Improving the Fabrication Process

Although the overall process is known and the chemicals to be used are set, a new fabrication process may initially not work as desired. Perhaps the etching is not at the expected speed, or the results are not consistently reliable. While the effects of changing chemical concentrations and timing for bath exposure are known, the optimum variables for the specific process have to be found.

After an initial run, the problem areas can be identified and variables such as chemical dosages and timing can be adjusted. Skilled and experienced operators can carry out the fabrication steps and make changes easily on a manual station. In manual mode, the operator is completely in control and nothing happens unless the operator initiates the action. Such control can be important when determining initial settings for a new process.

Once the major parts of the new process work as expected, there may still be minor adjustments necessary to achieve targets such as faster processing, better quality output or reduced chemical use. For such adjustments, use of a semi-automated station saves time. Instead of carrying out all the steps manually, the semi-automated station can run the parts of the process that don’t need adjusting. These parts will run reliably without operator intervention, as programmed and without deviation from the correct set points. The operator can then focus on the final adjustments to optimize and then utilize fully automated wafer process equipment

Subsequent Tailor Made Full Automation

Once the parameters and variables for the desired yield and performance have been determined, a tailor-made software and automation package can be assembled. This package, in a fully automated station, reproduces the custom settings of the manual and semi-automated process steps and uses them to consistently produce the desired results. Carrying out the fine tuning of the process on manual and semi-automated stations first allows the fully automated station with the optimized settings to scale up to full production right away. The tailor-made solution for a specific new process can immediately produce the desired yields and process characteristics.

For semiconductor fabrication facilities that often bring online new processes, using manual and semi-automated stations to fine tune the process and develop a tailor-made solution can be an attractive alternative to optimization on a fully automated station. Full automation is still desirable for production runs because of the greater reliability, accuracy and reproducibility that such stations deliver. Once the optimized software and automation package is running production on a fully automated station, the station will produce consistently high-quality output, high yields, low defect rates and use chemicals efficiently.

Modutek can work closely with each customer to determine the best way of optimizing new processes. The company’s full line of wafer processing equipment including manual, semi-automated and fully automated wet bench stations lends itself to this kind of optimization to produce ideal outcomes. Wafer fabrication facilities that consistently optimize new processes can lower overall costs and improve facility performance. Contact Modutek for a free quote or consultation on selecting the right equipment to support your manufacturing process requirements.

 

How Acid Fume Scrubbers Work to Maintain a Clean Work Environment

Creating silicon wafer microstructures, integrated circuits, and processors requires an extensive multi-step process of etching, stripping, and cleaning silicon wafers. Chemicals such as sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid or hydrogen peroxide carry out these operations effectively but give off vapor that is harmful for workers inside the workspace and for the environment outside. In addition to affecting worker health, there are regulatory compliance issues for a safe working environment. Acid fume scrubbers remove the harmful vapors from the air, leaving a clean workspace and clean air to be discharged outside the manufacturing facility. Modutek’s acid fumes scrubbers are especially effective and have a low cost of operation as well.

Acid Fume Scrubber Operation

The exhaust air from wet process stations will often contain droplets of the acid used in the process. Even as a mist of fine droplets, these acids remain extremely corrosive and may impact worker health, especially if inhaled. With increasingly strict regulations regarding worker safety and environmental impacts, such exhaust air has to be treated before being released into the workspace or outside.

Acid fume scrubbers neutralize the acid vapors and clean the exhaust air so that it is no longer dangerous for workers or harmful to the environment. The exhaust air containing the acid fumes is passed over a bed of wet packing material. The liquid in the packing material bed includes a chemical that neutralizes the acid safely. The acid droplets dissolve in the neutralizing liquid as the vapor passes over the wet packing bed and the acid is neutralized as it is absorbed from the exhaust air. The air exiting the acid fume scrubber contains only traces of acid and is safe.

The effectiveness of the scrubbers depends on the volume of air the scrubbers can handle and the surface area of the wet packing that is exposed to the acid fumes. Modutek’s acid fume scrubbers use packing material from packing technology leader Lantec to achieve an especially high surface area in the packing bed. To match the air exhaust requirements, Modutek acid fume scrubbers are available with air handling capacities from 500 to 25,000 CFM. Matching the air handling capacity to the high packing material surface area can result in acid fume removal from the exhaust air of up to 99 percent. At the same time, a water re-circulating system with pH control keeps the water consumption to a minimum and operating costs are low. Installing Modutek acid fume scrubbers lets wafer fabrication facility managers keep their workspaces clean and operating environment safe.

The Benefits of Using Acid Fume Scrubbers

When acid fumes get into the workplace, it impacts the workers and can corrode machinery. Even small concentrations can have negative effects over time. A clean work environment is especially important in semiconductor wafer fabrication because contaminants on the wafers affect the quality of the final product. As a result, placing acid fume scrubbers in the air exhausts of wet stations can improve worker health and improve product quality.

Modutek’s high efficiency acid fume scrubbers are complemented by a safe operating environment and an operator-friendly user interface. Double containment construction adds extra safety and there is a bottom drain for easy maintenance. The flow and pressure gauges give the operator a complete picture of the process while level control and metered discharge help ensure proper operation. With the neutralization of the acid taking place within the scrubber, operation of the scrubber is completely safe.

When the work environment is clean, workers will perform better, especially if they know they don’t have to be concerned about their health. Modutek’s acid fume scrubbers ensure that a clean and healthy work environment is possible, even in the face of using chemicals common in wet process wafer fabrication facilities. Contact Modutek for a free quote or consultation on selecting the right fume scrubber for your facility.

 

How Customized Equipment Has Improved the Silicon Wafer Cleaning Process

Different customized systems or custom components may improve silicon wafer cleaning processes because customers have special requirements or because the process characteristics are unusual. Suppliers taking on such projects must have extensive in-house experience and expertise together with a board line of silicon wafer cleaning equipment to provide custom solutions. When customization is required, effective solutions can improve throughput, lower costs, and result in higher output quality and yield. Modutek has both the experience and in-house expertise required to offer such customized equipment.

Customized Software

Modutek’s SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software allows customers to calculate chemical doses accurately as well as track chemical usage. Such calculations are especially important for custom installations because the inputs and the values obtained may be non-standard. Modutek develops and writes all its own software so the company can make adjustments and implement software customization whenever it’s required by a customer. This means that customers can rely on software that corresponds to their customized systems rather than trying to operate a custom system with standard software. Modutek’s software can tailored to precisely control and monitor even the most customized installations.

Custom-Fit Equipment

A lot of the equipment that goes into a silicon wafer cleaning installation has to fit into an existing space or fit other limiting installation parameters. Such custom-fit equipment may include:

  • Megasonic systems
  • Teflon tanks
  • Quartz baths
  • or other custom equipment

Modutek can build custom versions of these components to fit any existing or new wet process system to optimize the silicon wafer cleaning process. Megasonic cleaning systems can be customized for frequency and power while tanks can be sized according to custom requirements and can be fitted with heaters or re-circulating pumps as required. In each case, Modutek can analyze the silicon wafer cleaning application and recommend the most appropriate solution.

Custom Wet Bench Station Design

When preparing a custom wet bench station design, Modutek first looks at the process specifications. The software, chemical delivery systems, baths and wafer handling must all fit together to satisfy the process requirements. Sometimes customized components can be used in a standard configuration but at other times specially designed components may be arranged in a custom system.

This approach provides end-user flexibility while respecting customer specifications and ensuring that the equipment performs as expected. All systems are designed and built at Modutek’s company facilities based on their own in-house expertise and experience.

Customized Wet Process Systems

Wet process systems can be customized at the component or system level, but they can also feature customized levels of automation. Standard systems are manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic but special solutions are always possible. Customers may want a manual system but also want certain process sub-steps to run automatically. A customer may want the handling of hazardous chemicals to be fully automated for safety reasons but want the rest of the process to be manual. On the other hand, a fully automatic system may have a requirement for operator intervention at a specific point. Because Modutek designs these systems in-house, such customization is seamless and problem-free.

Customized wet process systems can find application in many research and industrial fields. A customized system is often needed for prototype development and testing since the prototype can have unusual or unique features. Cutting-edge research and development in industry or at universities may also require the special characteristics available from customized systems. Even full production manufacturing facilities may need customization if they want to try special cost-cutting or quality-enhancing production methods. In each case Modutek can analyze the requirements and propose solutions.

With over 35 years of experience in wet process technology, Modutek has pioneered customization as a tool for improving silicon wafer cleaning processes and continues to develop unique customized solutions for its customers. If you need a customized solution for your application contact Modutek for a free consultation or quote.

How Silicon Wet Etching Processes Are Improved with Specialized Equipment

how-silicon-wet-etching-processes-are-improved-with-specialized-equipmentWhile Modutek’s wet bench equipment supports all common wet etching processes, the continuous development of new wet bench technologies allows the company to offer specialized equipment that can improve performance for specific applications. Key factors for high output quality, fast processing, high yields and reliable outcomes are cleanliness, repeatability, tight control and precise dosages. Modutek’s standard line of silicon wet etching equipment already scores highly on these factors but the company’s specialized equipment can further improve performance for certain processes.

Buffered Oxide Etch (BOE)

The BOE process requires tight and precise temperature control while filtering lowers the particulate count and reduced acid consumption results in lower costs. Modutek’s F-series sub-ambient circulation bath is specially designed for BOE applications and addresses these factors. The temperature controller is accurate to less than plus/minus one degree centigrade in a range from 10 to 60 degrees centigrade with sub-ambient capability. The circulating bath includes 10.0 to 0.2 micron filtration and is designed for low acid consumption. Using a wet bench system specialized for the BOE process can reduce costs and defects in products while providing safe and reliable operation.

Piranha Etching

The sulfuric acid/hydrogen peroxide mixture of the Piranha solution is extremely corrosive, and the mixture is exothermic when first prepared. The Modutek QFa Series of Quartz High Temperature Recirculating Baths are ideal for withstanding the high temperatures, first of the initial heating after mixing and then during the process that is heated to preserve mixture reactivity. The baths have heaters that can raise the temperature of the mixture by two degrees Centigrade per minute and the temperature controller can maintain the temperature at plus/minus one degree centigrade over a range of 30 to 180 degrees centigrade. These Modutek quartz baths are characterized by the high degree of safety, reliable operation and low cost of ownership.

Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) Etching

Modutek Teflon tanks are ideal for use in KOH etching because they can be custom fitted to any wet bench configuration and come in three models to satisfy common heating and recirculating requirements. The TFa and TI series of Teflon tanks are temperature controlled to an accuracy of plus/minus 0.5 degrees centigrade over a range of 30 to 100 degrees centigrade. The TFa series are overflow re-circulating models while the TI series are static. The TT series are static ambient temperature models. All Teflon tanks are made from PFA Teflon with special welding techniques to minimize the presence of undesirable by-products in the process and to reduce contamination. Modutek’s Teflon tanks improve KOH process control, increasing reliability and reproducibility of process conditions.

Silicon Nitride Etching

Etching silicon nitride with a phosphoric acid deionized water mixture is challenging because the concentration changes as the deionized water evaporates and because adding water to the process can cause an explosion. Modutek’s silicon nitride wet etching bath is specially designed to address these issues and provide reliable and safe process control. The mixture is kept at the boiling point, which changes as the concentration increases. Depending on the temperature of the mixture, small amounts of deionized water are added to the boiling mixture to maintain the concentration at the required level. Using the boiling point temperature as an indication of the concentration and allowing the boiling mixture to immediately distribute small amounts of water lets Modutek control the process while maintaining safe operation.

With its extensive experience in silicon wet etching process technology, Modutek can deliver specialized equipment suited to a particular process and help customers select the right equipment for their applications. With equipment specially designed for the process used, customers obtain superior results while often saving money as well. Contact Modutek for a free consultation or quote on using the right silicon wet etching equipment for your application.

 

New SPM Process Provides 75% Improvement in Chemical Savings

new-spm-process-provides-75-improvement-in-chemical-savings2

Earlier this year Modutek started implementing its new SPM process with automatic adjustment of the sulfuric peroxide mix concentration and the company now has benchmark results from real process applications. Normally the SPM mixture deteriorates continuously as the hydrogen peroxide turns to water and dilutes the concentration. The SPM mixture has to be completely replaced every eight hours or so at the outside. Costs are substantial for downtime during new mixture pour and for the replacement of the chemicals as well as for neutralizing and disposing of the corrosive mixture in an environmentally safe way. Trying to lengthen the period during which an SPM mixture can be used has been an ongoing process for many companies but without results that provide a safe and reliable alternative.

In the Modutek “Bleed and Feed” system, a “dirty” tank and a “clean” tank are used to continuously compensate for changes in the mixture concentration caused by the degradation of hydrogen peroxide. Periodically when needed, a programmable amount of mixture is drained from the dirty tank and another programmable amount of mixture is automatically transferred from the clean tank to the dirty tank. To compensate, an appropriate amount of sulfuric acid is added to the clean tank and both tanks receive enough hydrogen peroxide to restore the concentration. The “Bleed and Feed” process is designed to maintain the SPM mixture concentration automatically over extended periods.

Benchmark Results from a Real “Bleed and Feed” Application

One of Modutek’s customers that use their semiconductor manufacturing equipment now has real-life results from the use of the company’s “Bleed and Feed” SPM process improvements. The results show significant reductions in chemical use, downtime for re-pour and disposal volumes. Detailed results are based on a 2 6-inch carrier bath size with an 8-hour shift and are as follows:

  • Volume of sulfuric acid used reduced by 77%
  • Chemical disposal volume reduced by 75%
  • Acid neutralizer use reduced
  • Acid re-agent use and cost reduced
  • No downtime to drain and re-pour
  • System drains reduced from three times a day to once a week
  • Increased throughput
  • No original process result changes
  • Increased safety due to less operator interaction with dangerous chemicals

While other companies have tried to develop other SPM clean process improvements involving less chemical use, Modutek’s system is now proven to provide excellent results in real life applications and operate reliably.

Improved SPM Process in Custom Designed Systems

While Modutek has developed a greatly improved method for maintaining SPM process mixture concentrations and reducing chemical use, the new method can be applied in any custom-designed SPM process wet bench. Modutek designs and assembles wet bench products and semiconductor manufacturing equipment at their facility in San Jose, California and can supply systems that exactly meet its customers’ requirements.

Process engineers and facility managers concerned about the environmental impact of high toxic chemical use and the increasing costs of chemicals such as sulfuric acid can contact Modutek for a free quote or consultation to discuss solutions to these issues. Modutek can suggest wet bench systems and follow up with proposals from their complete line of wet bench products. If the SPM process is needed by a customer, Modutek now has the benchmark results on reduced chemical use and improved facility operation.

 

How Chemical Delivery Systems Are Designed to Meet Customer Requirements

how-chemical-delivery-systems-are-designed-to-meet-customer-requirements2Many industrial activities require the supply of a variety of chemicals for their manufacturing or production processes. Because the industrial process may include special procedures and the use of specific chemicals, chemical delivery systems often have to be custom-designed to exactly meet the needs of a facility. Typical custom requirements deal with the quantities of chemicals required, how often chemicals have to be changed, how accurate the delivery or the mix has to be and the repeatability of a specific process. Safe handling is an important issue when the chemicals delivered are hazardous, as is safe neutralization and safe disposal. Customized systems can address each of these issues and ensure that the critical requirements are satisfied while leaving out unimportant features for a cost-effective solution.

Delivery Volumes

The quantities of chemicals used greatly impacts the design of the chemical delivery system. Large totes remote from the process can continuously deliver large volumes over extended periods while local drums and tanks can deliver smaller volumes but can be changed when the process requires a different chemical or when a new production process is started. In each case, load or level sensing has to be available so production personnel can plan the required chemical delivery. Software allows operating personnel to predict flows and requirements so adequate supplies are available.

Precision and Repeatability

Different industrial processes have different requirements for precision. For example, research projects often have to record exactly what chemicals were used and their precise quantity. Some semiconductor manufacturing processes also require high precision but others don’t. Precision is linked to repeatability. If a process has to run exactly the same way each time, the level of precision for chemical delivery has to be the same for each run.

Custom design can guarantee that the levels of precision and repeatability required for a process can be achieved, but such features are expensive. Customization means critical requirements are met but if high precision is not required, costs are reduced to cover what is essential for the process.

Safe Handling and Disposal

Customization is especially important for safety because each chemical has its own hazards and each process presents different dangers. Customized chemical delivery systems provide an additional level of safety to employees in the handling the chemicals and operating the delivery systems for specialized applications. Custom designs look at measures such as double-walled containment, corrosion-resistant fluid paths and leak detection for safe handling. Neutralization and disposal requires a customized approach due to the different ways chemicals are used but also because of the different regulations for safe chemical disposal.

Custom Chemical Delivery Solutions from Modutek

Modutek has the experience, the product line and the customization capabilities to satisfy specific customer needs and deliver high-quality, reliable and safe chemical delivery systems. The company designs and assembles all systems in house at their factory in San Jose, California. Because of the presence of in-house expertise for all important subsystems including the chemical delivery software, Modutek can respond exactly to the customization requirements of each manufacturing or production facility and deliver custom solutions that respond to customer needs.

From tote, drum and tank storage possibilities through systems with high precision capabilities, Modutek can deliver the storage and repeatability features needed. The SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software lets customers calculate precise mix and flow volumes. All chemical delivery systems are characterized by high levels of operator safety and special regulatory requirements for the disposal of toxic chemicals can be incorporated into the custom design as needed. With Modutek’s chemical delivery system designs, customers can be sure they are getting the systems they need. For a free quote or consultation contact Modutek at 866-803-1533 or email [email protected].

How Robotics Have Revolutionized Semiconductor Manufacturing

The automation over the last 25 years of wet bench stations used for semiconductor manufacturing has resulted in more efficient production and an increase in output quality. When the handling and mixing of the chemicals, the handling of the silicon wafers and the timing of the process steps were carried out manually, mistakes could result in defective products. Semiconductor equipment manufacturers have developed automation that has resulted in improved yields and less waste.

Modutek has been on the forefront of developing robotics and process control software that allows fully automatic or semiautomatic processing of silicon wafers. In this way, the entire semiconductor manufacturing process is controlled accurately and reliably. Chemical quantities and process timing are precise, process parameters are reproducible, and material handling is safe. Contamination is reduced with robotic wafer handling. For all these reasons, adding robotics to a wet bench processing line is a cost-effective solution for better facility performance.

Modutek’s Leadership in Wet Bench Robotics

During the company’s history of making wet process equipment, Modutek has focused on the integration of the latest technology in-house and with its own team of specialists. Founded in 1980, Modutek manufactured components such as quartz heated baths, nitride etch baths and rinsing systems. In 2002, Modutek acquired Sysmax Inc. with its advanced automation technology and from there developed its own robotics.

Advances in robotics have allowed Modutek and other semiconductor equipment manufacturers to offer semi-automated and fully automated stations. These wet benches and chemical stations can control the whole semiconductor manufacturing process with no or limited operator intervention. Both fully automated and semi-automated stations produce excellent process uniformity with semi-automated stations and robotics available at a lower cost if full automation is not required.

A key Modutek advantage for this type of equipment is that all process control software and robotics are designed and assembled in-house. The team working in the company’s San Jose, California manufacturing facility carry out all development work for both the SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software and for the associated robotics. All silicon wafer fabrication equipment is also tested in-house using de-ionized water. As a result, Modutek can offer unparalleled support and customization services.

Advantages and Benefits

The primary motivators for installing fully automated wafer fabrication equipment are to reduce costs and improve output quality. Elimination of human error and increased precision of chemical use means less waste and high-quality products.

Modutek’s SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software can calculate correct dosages and track chemical usage. With tighter environmental regulations, efficient chemical use not only reduces costs directly but also makes environmental compliance easier and less costly. When the composition of chemical baths is tightly controlled, the etch rate or wafer cleaning is predictable and consistent.

Automatic chemical delivery is not only more reliable than a manual procedure – it is also safer. Spills of hazardous or corrosive chemicals are less likely, and employee safety is increased.

Robotic handling of wafers can reduce contamination and deliver cleaner wafers for subsequent processing steps. The reduced size of features in semiconductor microstructures means that a single particle can block etching of a key feature or impact doping in a critical part of the semiconductor component. It is vital to keep contamination of wafers to a minimum, and robotic handling of wafers reduces the sources of particle contamination.

While some semiconductor manufacturing applications can be automated with standard solutions, in many cases the particular needs of a specific customer can require a degree of customization of the robotics and the process control software. Because Modutek does its own robotics and software design, developing custom applications is never a problem. Modutek’s team knows exactly how each part of the automated systems work and how to make the necessary adjustments.

With Modutek’s more than 35 years of experience, the company continues to promote innovation in robotics for semiconductor manufacturing. Robotics has made the wafer fabrication process more efficient, more predictable and safer. With its complete line of automated equipment, Modutek continues to bring these benefits to customers. For a free consultation or quote contact call 866-803-1533 or email [email protected]