Improving Standard Clean Particle Removal in a Wet Bench Process

When silicon wafer yields are not improved with the Standard Clean process, improved particle removal can be achieved with advanced processing equipment. Standard Clean or RCA clean was developed by the RCA company in 1965 and it has changed little since then. It has always been successful in cleaning wafers and removing most particles. However, with silicon circuits and structures decreasing in size and product density on wafers increasing, even the tiniest particles can cause device defects.

RCA clean works by first dissolving and removing organic materials from the surface of the wafers using powerful chemicals. In a second step, metallic impurities are removed and the wafer is rinsed clean. The two-step process and the rinsing remove most particles but the smallest particles often remain attached to the wafer with surface tension and electrostatic charges. Such particles can affect diffusion in wafers or block the etching of electronic structures or circuit paths.

The submicron particles are hard to remove completely with chemicals or by rinsing. The use of megasonic cleaning technology to generate very high-frequency sound waves in the wafer bath provides the capability to dislodge all remaining particles, allowing them to be rinsed away. Megasonic cleaning improves Standard Clean particle removal process and helps ensure defect-free production of microscopic structures on the silicon wafer.

How Megasonic Cleaning Works to Improve Standard Clean Particle Removal

The two steps making up the RCA wafer cleaning process are SC1, using a mixture of ammonium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide, and SC2, using a mixture of hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide. The SC1 process removes most of the contamination from the silicon wafer surface, but introduces metallic ion contaminants that can influence subsequent wafer processing steps. The SC2 process dissolves the remaining contaminants, allowing impurities to be rinsed away as they float to the surface of the cleaning mixture.

Standard Clean takes place in heated inert tanks such as quartz baths that are carefully designed to limit additional contamination. The chemical mixtures are heated to about 80 degrees centigrade and processing takes about 10 minutes for each step. After rinsing, the silicon wafers are clean but may still have an unacceptable number of submicron particles adhering to the wafer surfaces.

Megasonic cleaning can remove the majority of these particles while also dislodging the few larger particles that may still be present. The process involves adding a megasonic transducer to the tank holding the wafers. The transducer converts very high-frequency signals from a megasonic generator into sound waves that travel through the rinsing water to strike the wafer surfaces. Sound wave frequencies are typically at or above 1 MHz but may range as low as 200 kHz depending on the specific cleaning application.

As the sound waves travel through water, they create microscopic cavitation bubbles that form and burst in tune with the sound wave frequency. When the bubbles burst, they produce tiny but intense jets of water. The jets from the bubbles near the wafer surfaces dislodge any remaining particles, leaving them to be rinsed away at the surface of the bath, for example via an overflow weir. The additional Megasonic Cleaning step is very effective in particle removal because the tiny jets break any bonds that make the particles adhere to the wafer. The result is extremely low particle counts on wafers that undergo both the RCA wafer cleaning process and Megasonic Cleaning.

Modutek Designs and Builds Specialized Equipment to Improve Wet Bench Processes

Megasonic Cleaning is one example of Modutek’s implementation of designs and technologies that improve wet process performance for their customers. For over forty years Modutek has been providing specialized semiconductor manufacturing equipment to meet unique industry needs. As a leading semiconductor equipment manufacturer, the company offers free consulting and can provide recommendations on equipment from its complete product lines. When Modutek supplies wet bench equipment to customers, the company follows a well-defined process to ensure their equipment performance meets customer requirements.

5 Important Things to Know Before Buying a Wet Bench Station

5 Important Things to Know Before Buying a Wet Bench StationWet bench semiconductor manufacturing has many variations and applications often have unique features. Before buying a wet bench station, there are several main things to look at before deciding what equipment is best suited for a specific manufacturing task. Options include the type of station, how it operates, how it receives its chemicals and what specialized or custom features are required. When a prospective supplier has extensive experience and the required expertise as well as offering a complete line of wet bench equipment and customization as required, the selection becomes easier. Five main things influence which of the available wet benches to buy. Knowing these five things helps determine which station satisfies the manufacturing application requirements.

1. Different Types of Wet Process Stations Have Different Advantages

Types of wet benches include a standard white polypropylene construction for acid and base process applications such as KOH and RCA clean. Solvent application wet benches for processes such as acetone, IPA and photo resist stripping have a stainless steel construction. Stations are available with a dry-to-dry process and can include a chemical fume hood. An experienced supplier can advise on the different options and the customization possibilities.

2. The Degree of Automation Depends on the Application

Manual stations are best suited for initial development work when the main process parameters are not yet known. Manual stations can be used to develop a process framework. Once the overall process is set, semi-automatic stations can be used to program the fixed parameters to run automatically while operators retain manual control of some variables for optimization purposes. Once the process is fully developed, fully automated stations can be used to run the productions line and increase throughput.

3. Chemical Delivery Systems Improve Process Control

Chemical delivery systems run and monitor chemical storage, delivery to the process and disposal of chemical discharge. They minimize waste and reduce spills. Chemical delivery systems are recommended for applications that rely on highly accurate dosages of specific chemicals during the manufacturing process.

4. Rinsing and Drying are Critical for Avoiding Particle Contamination

Reduced particle counts on wafers improve process yields because particles can cause product defects. Special configurations such as the combined rinsing and drying station and the quick dump rinser improve process efficiency and reduce the particle count. Depending on the wet process application, such rinsing and drying configurations may improve overall facility performance.

5. Special Custom Functionality Can Be Built Into Standard Stations

Semiconductor equipment manufacturers that build their own wet process stations in house can add custom functionality when an application requires it. For example, an application may include etching of aluminum layers on a wafer and a special vacuum metal etcher may have to be incorporated in the wet bench process. Some applications require an especially low particle count and wafers may have to be cleaned with Megasonic equipment to dislodge and remove the tiniest particles. Such specialized custom functions work best when a custom design integrates them into the rest of the wet bench process.

Once customers are aware of these five pieces of information, they can proceed to select a supplier that can satisfy them on all five points. They will then be able to specify the kind of performance they want to achieve and help make sure that they get the equipment they need.

Modutek Builds Their Own Equipment to the Highest Standards

Modutek design and build their own equipment in house and can customize wet process stations as required. Their specialized modules include the combined rinsing and drying IPA dryer, the quick dump rinser and the Megasonic cleaner. The company can help customers with all five of the listed points and ensure the purchased wet benches meet their needs.

Modutek’s History of Innovation, Customer Support and Satisfaction

Modutek's History of Innovation, Customer Support and SatisfactionWith 40 years of success as a manufacturer of wet bench stations and semiconductor equipment, Modutek Corporation continues working with customers to improve process results and meet customer needs. The company emphasizes the following three aspects of its operations.

1. Constant innovation, looking for aspects of wet bench technology that could be improved and finding solutions that produce excellent results.

2. Customer support. Because Modutek manufactures all its own equipment, it has the expertise to provide unparalleled support for everything the company delivers.

3. Customer satisfaction. Modutek uses raw materials and parts of the highest quality to deliver equipment that meets or surpasses customer expectations.

By building its operations around innovation and customer needs, Modutek has become a leading semiconductor equipment manufacturer.

Manufactures Reliable Equipment of the Highest Quality

The key to producing reliable equipment is to use high-quality inputs for proven manufacturing processes. When manufacturing wet bench components with materials such as quartz, Teflon and stainless steel Modutek specifies the highest quality and produces equipment with an excellent track record. The high equipment reliability results in low down times and high-quality output for customers.

Innovation that Provides Customers with Solutions

Modutek’s customer-centered approach directs innovation towards addressing customer problems. The company works closely with customers to learn about their needs and then develops solutions that incorporate the latest technology to improve process results.

Wet Bench Equipment that is Designed, Built and Programmed In House

Customers ordering wet bench equipment from Modutek receive one-stop solutions with no third parties. During concept, configuration and design customers work with Modutek specialists to translate their needs into wet process systems that can carry out the functions they want. Manufacturing is done at the company’s plant in San Jose and the software used in process automation is written and programmed by Modutek’s own engineers. With no third parties to call in and a seamless knowledge of the delivered systems, Modutek can provide exceptional service and support.

Delivering a Comprehensive Suite of Wet Process Equipment

Modutek is a wet bench manufacturer with a complete line of wet process equipment including complete systems, individual stations and process components. Stations can be manual, semi-automated and fully automated and they can incorporate auxiliary functions such as an IPA vapor dryer or chemical handling station.

Components making up wet process systems include Quartz tanks/baths, Teflon tanks, Solvent baths, Megasonic cleaning, Air Scrubbers, waste water treatment systems and Quick Dump Rinsers. Modutek can offer such components to be added to an existing facility or can assemble standard components to meet specific customer needs. In each case, Modutek can help establish what is required for a wet process application and recommend equipment from its own comprehensive line, ensuring that the equipment performs as expected.

Modutek Can Design a Custom Solution for all Wet Process Applications

Semiconductor manufacturing has many steps and an application often has unique requirements. Prototypes, models, research projects or proof of concept products can each require custom solutions. While Modutek has standard components in its product line, the company can modify its standard designs to meet specific customer needs.

Because Modutek builds all its products in house, it has the capability to change dimensions, use special materials, and integrate additional functions into a system or program how specific processes run. Tanks and baths can be built to fit existing spaces or match existing facilities. Wet bench stations can be programmed with exactly the right amount of automation, adding operator interventions at critical points. With its in house expertise, Modutek can examine customer requirements and build the corresponding equipment.

Combining 40 years of experience with its comprehensive wet process equipment product line and its extensive customization capabilities lets Modutek satisfy customers with effective results. Modutek also backs up its equipment with superior customer service and support. That record together with its innovative products makes Modutek one of the leading semiconductor equipment manufacturers.

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.

How Quartz Tube Stations Work and the Benefits They Provide

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

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 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]

Advancements in Wafer Fabrication Equipment Improve Semiconductor Manufacturing

advancements in wafer fabrication equipment improve semiconductor manufacturingWhile the requirements for high precision control in wafer fabrication have increased, improvements in the fabrication equipment have also kept pace. The higher complexity and smaller size of semiconductor structures require extremely precise process control to ensure adequate output quality and a low component rejection rate. Advancements in automation and in reducing manual handling of the wafers have met these stricter requirements and allowed fabrication shops to increase productivity and reduce costs. Semiconductor equipment suppliers need to provide comprehensive automation solutions to meet in increasing requirements of manufacturers and research centers developing leading edge semiconductor devices.

Automation Advancements

Modutek, a leading semiconductor equipment supplier, provides wafer fabrication equipment that offers fully automated control of the entire processes. Process steps are precisely repeatable resulting in consistent output. Chemical dosage is accurate and the process is executed according to clearly defined steps. While operator intervention is still possible where needed, fully automated stations reduce errors and produce less waste.

Integrated software such as Modutek’s SolidWorks Flow Simulation and SolidWorks Simulation Professional lets operators calculate process variables and track chemical usage. Once the process is programmed, advanced robotics execute the process steps without operator intervention. Operators can rely on a consistent process environment and increased throughput with high output quality.

Both the software and the use of robotics within the automated stations themselves have significantly improved process control and efficiency. Many semiconductor equipment suppliers offer varying degrees of customized solutions for different kinds of wafer manufacturing requirements. At Modutek, both the software as well as the design, assembly and testing of their wet bench stations are carried out at the company’s facilities and are adapted to meet particular process requirements. The ability of suppliers to provide wafer fabrication equipment tailored to meet the unique requirements of semiconductor manufacturers has helped them to improve yields for each specific process they use.

Advanced Equipment Reduces Handling

The last etch process step involves etching the silicon wafer to remove the silicon oxide layer and then drying the clean wafer. Any particle contamination introduced at this point can influence further silicon wafer processing and result in defective or poor quality semiconductor components. Moving the silicon wafers from the last etch process step to a drying chamber risks introducing additional particle contamination. A new product by Modutek combines the last etch (HF) and IPA drying chamber to avoid handling the silicon wafers and substantially reduces the particle count.

The Modutek combined HF last etch and IPA drying chamber is a modified IPA dryer that allows injection of HF acid prior to the start of IPA drying. The ratio-controlled acid etches the wafers down to bare silicon and the wafers are then rinsed with DI water. Once the rinse reaches a pre-defined pH level, the IPA drying process starts with the introduction of IPA vapor from the top. The IPA or Marangoni drying technique avoids watermarks on the wafers. Throughout the process step, the wafers

Benefits from Using Advanced Fabrication Equipment

Modutek offers wet bench stations using the latest technology to improve wafer fabrication equipment and facility performance. With its advanced fully automated stations the company can improve yields by ensuring accurate processing. The software developed in house controls chemical use and precise processing of wafers. The combination of advanced robotics, dedicated software and in house expertise results in consistent, high quality output and reduced costs.

While automation drives a continuous advancement in process reliability and product quality, the elimination of the handling of wafers during transfer into the final drying chamber provides a single substantial improvement through wafer particle reduction. In recent tests only 20 particles (adders) in the 0.3 to 5 micron range were added to the etched substrate in the combined etching/drying system. This single step improvement in the fabrication process can often justify the cost of acquiring the advanced fabrication equipment that will subsequently increase facility performance and profitability.

Modutek has over 35 years of experience providing fully automated wafer fabrication equipment to the semiconductor manufacturing industry. The company has the expertise to advise customers regarding their semiconductor processing needs and can customize their equipment to meet a customer’s application requirements.

Modutek Named Among Top Suppliers in Global Semiconductor Wafer Cleaning System Market

Modutek is a supplier of wet bench technology, wet processing and chemical handling stations to the semiconductor fabrication industry. The company was recently named as one of the top suppliers in the semiconductor wafer cleaning equipment market global opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast (2017-2023) report published on alliedmarketresearch.com. Modutek emphasizes in house development of its software and equipment and focuses on a high level of customer support, leveraging the expertise of its own engineers to offer both standard and customized systems. At the forefront of innovative development, the company offers complete solutions to improve semiconductor fabrication facility performance and output quality.

The Characteristics of a Top Supplier

To become a top supplier in any industry a company has to supply high quality equipment that meets the needs of customers over an extended period of time. In the case of semiconductor equipment manufacturers, it means offering silicon wafer processing stations that execute the customer’s processes precisely with high output quality at a reasonable total cost of ownership. Top suppliers will know the details of the different etching, stripping and cleaning processes and will have developed equipment and software that handles them safely and effectively.

Modutek has been supplying the semiconductor equipment industry for over 35 years, building a reputation for high levels of competence and innovation. The company’s wet bench stations support all the common chemical processes for wafer fabrication and Modutek has developed innovative software and process steps that help reduce customer costs while increasing throughput and minimizing defective or low-quality semiconductor products. Modutek’s in house expertise resulting from designing, building and testing its own equipment allows the company to offer customized systems that exactly meet the needs of each customer. A high level of customer service completes the focus on customer satisfaction.

Innovation and Customer Focus

Modutek has become a top supplier to the global semiconductor wafer cleaning system market by introducing innovative solutions to address customer concerns in a changing technical and commercial environment. In general, the company introduces new systems that increase productivity while reducing costs. More specifically, new products allow for maintaining or even increasing yield in the face of challenges from denser component packing and more complex microstructures on the silicon wafer.

In an initiative to reduce wafer particle counts by eliminating particles added during the move from the last etch to the drying chamber, Modutek has introduced a single chamber process. Instead of exposing wafers to contamination during additional handling, the HF acid last etch and IPA drying are performed in the same chamber, eliminating a transfer step. In recent tests, Modutek has been able to demonstrate that the single chamber process is effective in achieving very low particle counts and higher quality outputs.

In addition to such specific innovations, Modutek has developed comprehensive automation solutions that help reduce error and waste. The fully automated Modutek wet process stations deliver accurate chemical dosages and precise process times to ensure exact execution of programmed process steps. Such automation is cost-effective and provides the tight process control required for the latest wafer fabrication tasks.

The Benefits of Choosing Modutek as a Supplier

In addition to the company’s lengthy experience as a semiconductor equipment manufacturer in a field that has a high turnover of suppliers, Modutek distinguishes itself through its in house expertise. All software and equipment design is carried out by Modutek engineers and all equipment is assembled and tested in house. As a result, Modutek can offer unparalleled service and support without having to call on third parties to help out. As a top supplier to its market, Modutek can propose the right solutions to particular customer’s requirements deliver the needed equipment from its extensive range and offer seamless support as needed.

Designing Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment for Ergonomics and Safety

Designing Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment for Ergonomics and SafetySemiconductor manufacturing processes routinely use chemicals and procedures that could result in accidents if the manufacturer did not have a serious commitment to safety. Safety guidelines such as SEMI S2, published by the global industry association for microelectronics manufacturers, help manufacturers implement safe operating protocols. Ergonomic designs for semiconductor manufacturing equipment as described in SEMI S8 help ensure a safe operating environment by reducing operator strain and fatigue.

In semiconductor facilities, fire is one of the most damaging threats and burning plastic releases toxic fumes while contaminating clean areas. The Cleanroom Materials Flammability Test Protocol (Class 4910) or the FM 4910 specification allows manufacturers to specify the use of non-flammable materials for their equipment. A comprehensive approach to safety, including ergonomic design and the reduction of fire hazards is the most effective strategy for reducing accidents in a semiconductor manufacturing environment.

Prioritizing Safety When Purchasing Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment

Installations that have been in operation for a number of years may no longer satisfy current safety standards or may not meet the safety goals of the owner. The purchase of new equipment is an ideal opportunity to upgrade existing safety features and to ensure that the new equipment is as safe as possible.

Modutek follows the SEMI safety and ergonomics guidelines to design equipment that is easy to use and doesn’t require excessive reach or strength to operate. Typical examples include the Modutek wafer holding tray and a swing-arm operator interface mount. The wafer holding tray on the Modutek wet benches includes a robot arm that moves the tray to the front of the station for optimal loading with a minimum of effort.

The Modutek operator interface is normally out of the way along the side of the station, but that position is hard to see when an operator is monitoring the process. The ergonomic design allows the operator to swing the interface out and angle it for optimal viewing. The swing arm can rotate along three axes so the operator can place it in whatever position is the most convenient. Once in position, the operator can lock it into place securely, so it doesn’t move inadvertently.

Both of these examples demonstrate how Modutek implements ergonomic designs to help operators and technicians carry out their work safely and with a minimum of effort. The result is often higher productivity, more satisfied employees and fewer accidents.

Reducing Fire Hazards on New Equipment

Traditionally clean rooms are fitted with sprinkler systems or other specialized fire protection. An array of sensors detects flames, smoke, chemical vapors or heat and triggers the fire extinguishing system. By this time contamination of the facility is severe and re-establishing clean room manufacturing capability is time-consuming and expensive.

Semiconductor manufacturers and research centers with clean room facilities can reduce the threat of a fire that could disable their production by minimizing the use of flammable materials. Many wet bench processes use corrosive chemicals in tanks and piping made of plastic or other normally flammable synthetic material. Modutek can support efforts to minimize the use of flammable materials by supplying equipment that meets the FM 4910 flammability specifications and reduces the threat of fire.

Increased Safety with New Equipment from Modutek

Modutek has over 35 years experience in designing and manufacturing wet bench stations. The company has a broad range of standard equipment and can customize all aspects of semiconductor manufacturing to meet specific specialized needs.

While Modutek wet benches have a high degree of safety and ergonomic design built in, special customer requests can always be accommodated. Specific safety features or special ergonomic requirements can be added if not already present, and additional precautions against fire and other hazards can be incorporated as needed. Modutek equipment already includes many safety features, but the company has the experience and expertise to meet any additional customer requirements.