How Fully Automated Wafer Fabrication Equipment Improves Process Control

As the microscopic structures etched on silicon wafers become more complicated and densely packed, precise process control and the elimination of particle contamination become increasingly important. The accuracy of chemical dosages and the timing of steps have to be consistent and the handling of wafers must be reduced to a minimum. Fully automated wafer fabrication equipment can help ensure that these conditions for the production of high-quality semiconductor components are met.

Software is the Key to Full Automation

Manual and semi-automatic wet processing equipment rely on operators to mix chemicals and transfer wafers. The correct execution of the process steps depends on operator training, the operator following instructions and the instructions being accurate. Errors or inconsistencies in execution can result in defective products, production line down time and low quality output. Throughput is reduced and productivity suffers. The semiconductor manufacturing facility’s overall operations are less efficient and less profitable.

When software runs the wafer fabrication equipment, it eliminates the variability introduced by manual operation and inconsistent documentation. Once a process runs correctly, the software can be saved, and it will always run the same process exactly the same way in the future. Batches are consistent and components work as designed.

The use of software to run fully automated stations can have the following benefits:

  • Exact chemical ratios are ensured and are maintained from batch to batch.
  • The timing of process steps is precise and repeatable.
  • Process variables can easily be optimized by programming small changes in the software.
  • Accurate chemical dosages result in reduced waste and lower chemical use.
  • Chemical neutralization and disposal are reliable and easily documented.
  • Worker safety is enhanced because operators are less exposed to toxic chemicals.

These benefits come from programming automatic controls to manage the cleaning and etching of the silicon wafers. The software calculates how much of each chemical is needed for a particular process step. It controls the adding of the chemicals to the process tank, times the process step, drains the chemicals and neutralizes the waste chemicals. Once the variables in the software are optimized, the software will run the optimized process the same way every time. The results are predictable and consistent.

The Use of Robotics Reduces Contamination

Particle contamination becomes a bigger problem when the structures and conductors on the silicon wafers are small or tightly packed. For the smallest microscopic structures, a single particle may block a conductor, distort a structure or affect diffusion. The result can be an increase in defective products, products with a reduced life span or products that don’t have the desired characteristics.

Manually moving or handling wafers can be a source of particle contamination. Robotic parts are designed with low particle counts in mind and the movement of wafers can be reduced to a minimum. The exact motions are programmed and performed the same way each time.

In fully automated systems, only the robotic arms transport the wafers and no manual handling by operators is required. Once the automated sequence is started, the robotics controlled by the software move the wafers through the process without operator intervention. Fully automated robotic systems reduce particle contamination and improve semiconductor manufacturing facility performance.

Modutek Offers Fully Automated Wafer Fabrication Equipment and Wet Bench Stations

Modutek’s product line includes fully automated wafer fabrication equipment and wet bench stations. The company programs its own SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software and makes extensive use of robotics to deliver excellent process control and high-quality output. Modutek’s software is developed in house and all wet process stations are assembled in the company’s San Jose facility. This means that Modutek specialists can optimize the automation to deliver the best possible performance and that they can customize the equipment for special applications.

The full range of benefits that Modutek’s fully automated stations include the following:

  • Reduced chemical usage
  • Improved etch rates
  • Higher yields
  • Better throughput
  • Excellent repeatability
  • Can handle both acid and solvent applications
  • Can work with standard wafer carrier sizes and custom sizes up to 30″ x 60″
  • Extensive tracking of process variables
  • Highest output quality

To make sure that the desired performance is maintained and to track all relevant data, the Modutek fully automated stations provide data logging and data access through Ethernet. Customers can record process variables and track key characteristics through an optimization period or during normal processing. These records can be valuable for quality assurance purposes and for demonstrating compliance with environmental regulations.

Modutek Supports the SECS/GEM Semiconductor Industry Protocol

The SECS (SEMI Equipment Communications Standard) and the GEM (Generic Equipment Model) protocol standards specify how automated semiconductor fabrication equipment can communicate with a host computer. Developed by the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International organization, the standards define interfaces, messaging and communication capabilities. Communication can be via TCP/IP networks or an RS-232 connection. This means the control system of the fully automated wet process station can communicate with hosts that could range from a local computer to a server in the cloud.

Modutek’s fully automated stations support this protocol and can supply a variety of data to the hosts while receiving remote commands to start or stop a process and to choose stored recipes or programs. In an automated fabrication facility, an operator can remotely control their automated stations and can remotely log data and operating parameters. A library of recipes and software programs for specific process steps can be accessed by the automated stations that can carry out fabrication steps with a minimum level of local operator involvement.

Based on their expertise in the field of wet process semiconductor manufacturing and the hands-on experience of its specialists, Modutek can recommend automated semiconductor fabrication equipment and can build systems to meet the specific needs of customer applications. All software and robotics are designed, built and tested at Modutek’s San Jose facility.

The company leverages this capability to offer its customers custom automation solutions. Modutek’s fully automated stations can operate in a simple locally automated cycle where local operators log and verify operations. They can also function as part of an automated fabrication facility controlled remotely with data and operating parameters stored in the cloud.

With more than 35 years of experience, Modutek continues to provide innovative and reliable equipment for semiconductor manufacturing. For a free consultation or quote contact call 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]

How Wet Bench Stations Are Tailored for Specific Manufacturing Process Requirements

The fabrication of semiconductor wafers requires that an elaborate set of chemical etching, stripping and cleaning steps be followed in a precise procedure that can be consistently repeated. The semiconductor manufacturing process requires that the use of hydrofluoric acid and other chemicals which must precisely controlled and monitored. These high-tech processes are critically important to industries that fabricate semiconductors, medical equipment and photovoltaic cells. They require the use of custom-made wet benches designed to assist in the safe and precise control of corrosive chemicals at high temperatures.

Wet bench equipment

Modutek provides a full range of wet bench equipment to address the specialized needs of semiconductor manufacturing facilities and research centers. Wet bench stations can be tailor made according to the specific manufacturing process requirements of a customer.

Citric-nitric passivation wet benches are critical to the passivation of titanium and stainless-steel parts in various industries. Electro-polishing wet bench equipment is deployed in the medical device industry in the manufacture of precision steel, cobalt chrome and titanium components.

Multistage wet process fume hoods with circulation pumps are used in aerospace component manufacture, printed circuit board fabrication, and the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Modutek’s wet bench equipment for the semiconductor industry meets UL2360/FM4910 standards for fire and contamination safety. This enables fabricators to remain compliant with applicable environmental laws.

Titanium anodizing equipment, agitated immersion washers, in-line conveyor washers, spray cabinet washers and other precision equipment are an integral part of the semiconductor industry, as well. Modutek is an industry leader in the design, development and deployment of these and many other kinds of wet bench equipment.

The precision needed in manufacturing equipment

Sulfuric acid-peroxide is a powerful chemical that is critical to the cleaning processes applied to semiconductor wafers. Effective application of this chemical mixture is inherently unstable and requires constant rebalancing. The rebalancing and control is needed to maintain efficiency. The mixture needs to be constantly replenished with hydrogen peroxide at high temperatures, something that can be costly even in simple material costs. Modutek’s high-tech systems not only ensure the correct concentration levels, they also help fabricators contain material costs through the use of an exclusive chemical re-use system to contain material costs. Every part of the process is maintained and monitored by equipment that is software controlled.

The silicon nitride wet etching process is another semiconductor fabrication stage that requires a high level of precision and control. Silicon nitride is used to mask chemical etchings on silicon wafers. Once an etching successfully completes, the masking material requires removal. Typically, a mixture of phosphoric acid and the ionized water is applied. Precise control over the chemical mixture is needed, however, if only to prevent the risk of dangerous heat levels and explosions. Modutek’s wet bench station design addresses this challenge through the use of high-tech safety features and the use of precision software.

Modutek’s in-house design process

From manual to semi-automated and fully automated wet bench stations, Modutek’s products are designed and developed in-house right down to the software. From servo-controlled robots and automated equipment to low-cost manual stations, Modutek’s equipment covers the needs of the industries they serve. With their in house expertise and 35+ years of operation, the company is well equipped to meet and support the requirements of semiconductor manufacturers and research centers. Developing equipment that provides thorough and precise control of the manufacturing process is what sets Modutek apart from other semiconductor equipment manufacturers. Contact Modutek today at 866-803-1533 for a free consultation or quote on wet bench equipment that can be tailor made to support your specific manufacturing requirements.

 

Changes to the SPM Process Improves Efficiency and Results

The sulfuric acid hydrogen peroxide mixture (SPM) process effectively strips and cleans wafers but suffers from instability due to the decomposition of the hydrogen peroxide. A heated bath improves performance but increases the rate at which hydrogen peroxide changes into water. Periodically spiking the mixture with extra hydrogen peroxide can restore the required concentration but affects the strip rate. As a result, the SPM mixture has to be changed frequently, leading to high costs for chemicals and frequent downtime on wet bench stations. Working closely with a local semiconductor manufacturer, Modutek has developed a “bleed and feed” process upgrade that addresses these problems and results in substantially longer mixture life and improved process results.

The SPM Process

A typical mixture for the SPM strip and clean process is one part hydrogen peroxide to three parts sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid parts can go as high as 7 parts but once the process has started, if the concentration changes, the strip rate can change as well. The mixture is heated to 130 to 140 degrees centigrade to increase the strip rate. The higher the temperature, the faster the hydrogen peroxide decomposes to water, diluting the mixture.

To keep hydrogen peroxide in the mixture, more of the chemical is periodically added to the process, spiking the concentration back to its original level. Despite this, the mixture is normally usable for only a few hours at a time and typically has to be replaced several times a day. Replacing the mixture is costly and requires repeated downtime when processing has to wait for a new pour. In addition to the costs of the chemicals, there are treatment and disposal costs that are required to comply with environmental regulations.

Modutek’s “Bleed and Feed” Process Change

Modutek has developed a hydrogen peroxide spiking method that keeps the chemical mixture at a predictable concentration and avoids the requirement for frequent replacement. The method reduces consumption of the chemicals and lets the system run for extended periods without down- time.

Using a two-tank dirty and clean tank process, the “bleed and feed” method involves draining a programmable amount of mixture from the dirty tank prior to each process step. Another programmable amount is fed from the clean tank to the dirty tank. Then programmable amount of sulfuric acid is added to the clean tank and both tanks receive programmable amount of hydrogen peroxide.

When the entire mixture has to be replaced, normally about once every week, the system has a quick drain feature that reduces down time and gets the process up and running again quickly. The whole “bleed and feed” spiking method is PLC controlled and the periodic adding and spiking of chemicals allows the mixture to be used continuously for days at a time.

Benefits of the Modutek Process Change

In addition to savings related to the reduced use of chemicals, the new update improves overall efficiency and achieves better results. Instead of having to shut down the wet bench station every shift to pour new acid, the process can run for days and only requires a complete chemical change once per week. In addition, the process is cleaner and can deliver better cleaning and stripping performance.

Modutek is offering the SPM process upgrade on their new wet bench stations and can provide details regarding chemical use and performance. The company has the experience and expertise to help customers more effectively use the SPM and other processes to ensure they obtain the results they need. Call Modutek at 866-803-1533 for any questions you have with using either the updated SPM process or other wet processes needed for your application.

 

Modutek at 2018 Semicon Conference in China

2018 Semicon Conference ChinaModutek Corporation, a leading provider of wet bench stations and wet process equipment, will be at the Semicon Conference in Shanghai China from March 14-16, 2018 with their factory representative Laserwort Ltd.  They will be located in Hall N2 at booth 2431. Information about the Semicon Conference can be referenced at http://www.semiconchina.org/ and details on Modutek’s attendance at the conference can be referenced at: Modutek at Semicon Conference in China

Come by the Modutek /Laserwort booth to get information and answer any questions you have about using Wet Bench Process Stations for acid/base, solvent and ozone cleaning or photo resist strip.  In addition Modutek will also provide information about the benefits of their new IPA vapor dryer with the HF last process. Modutek serves customers around the world who require any type of wet processing equipment and builds chemical delivery systems for pharmaceutical, biochemical, solar and semiconductor manufacturing.

Additional details on some of Modutek’s products are listed below:

Single Chamber HF Last IPA Vapor Dryer

Benefits include:

  • Most drying cycles completed within 10 to 15 minutes
  • Very low consumption of IPA
  • No moving parts inside drying chamber eliminating wafer breakage
  • Eliminates watermarks
  • Drying technology can be designed into wet bench eliminating one transfer step

Features include:

  • Single drying chamber for DI water rinsing and IPA vapor drying
  • On board HF metering for precision mix ratios
  • Uses an in situ HF etch process with a rinse step before the IPA drying cycle
  • Filter bypass for contamination control with no cassette contact points
  • Easy to change IPA bottles
  • Handles all process sizes (standard wafer carriers to glass substrates)

 

Fully-automated Wet Bench Equipment

Benefits include:

  • In house customization to meet customer process requirements
  • Precise automated process execution and reliable repeatability
  • Full automation control with touch screen
  • Improved yield and reduced errors
  • SolidWorks Simulation software for accurate calculation of process parameters
  • All robotics and software design designed in house
  • Complete design, assembly and test at one location to meet your specifications

 

Semi-automated Wet Bench Equipment:

Benefits Include:

  • Automation control with touch screen
  • Servo motor automation
  • SolidWorks Flow Simulation software
  • SolidWorks Simulation Professional software
  • All robotics and software designed and developed in house
  • Complete design, assembly and test at one location to meet your specifications

 

Manual Wet Bench Equipment:

Benefits Include:

  • High end manual equipment at competitive pricing
  • Meets or exceeds all current safety standards
  • Low cost of ownership
  • Designed to meet any process requirements
  • Can accommodate custom designs and processes
  • Equipment designed for future expansion

 

All wet bench equipment supports the following applications:

  • KOH Etching
  • Quartz cleaning
  • Ozone Strip
  • Ozone Cleaning
  • SC1 & SC2 (RCA Clean)
  • Megasonic Cleaning
  • BOE (Buffered Oxide Etching)
  • MEMs processing
  • All solvent applications
  • Hot phosphoric (Nitride Etching)
  • SPM Cleaning
  • Precision Part Cleaning

Modutek has over 37 years of industry experience and expertise in developing and building wet bench stations and wet process equipment that provides highly reliable results for precision processes. They also provide world-class service, and customer support. Contact Modutek at 866-803-1533 or email [email protected] for a free quote or consultation to discuss your requirements.

 

Determining Which Wafer Processing Station Will Meet Your Requirements

Wet bench stations come in a variety of configurations designed for different applications. It can be difficult to make a selection from the many possibilities and make sure the equipment you choose will best meet your requirements. One way to cut down on the uncertainty and to structure the selection process is to emphasize three areas where your needs have to be satisfied.

A Wafer Processing Station has to comply with the standards and regulations in effect for your operation; it has to be able to carry out the processes that you are considering; and it has to be automated in accordance with what you need. When you consider these three areas and find equipment that fulfills your requirements in each one, you will be closer to making a final selection.

Compliance with Standards

Wet bench standards aim to ensure safe operation and resistance to combustion. Modutek wet bench stations comply with the following standards:

  • NFPA 70 – National Fire Protection
  • NFPA 79 – Safety of Industrial Machinery
  • NEC – National Electrical Code
  • UL508a -Standard for Industrial Control Panels

If the equipment is to be installed outside the US, Modutek can also comply with the national standards of Europe (CE Mark), Canada (CSA) and Australia/New Zealand (AS/NZS3000). In addition to complying with these standards, Modutek can supply third party certification for compliance.

Applications

Depending on the process required, Modutek can supply the right systems and advise on the advantages of specific products from their complete line of wet bench equipment. Standard Modutek wet bench stations can support both acid and solvent processes while the stainless-steel line is designed for solvent processes such as those using acetone or IPA. Optional equipment for specific processes is also available.

Automation

Modutek offers manual, semi-automated and fully automated wet bench stations. Which best meets your requirements depends on how you plan to conduct wet process operations. A manual bench may be appropriate for low volume custom or prototype device processes. For higher volume with standard processes, a degree of automation improves your throughput and reduces human error. Modutek’s stations are all built with the same high-quality materials, but the company can supply the degree of automation that matches your needs.

Manual wet bench stations feature competitive pricing with a low total cost of ownership. Modutek can supply the benches at any size and length and to meet any wet process needs. Custom designs are possible and future expansion of the process line is easy.

Semi-automated wet bench stations include robots for uniformity of process execution without the cost of full automation. The servomotors of the robots operate with three degrees of freedom and give you precise control of etching and cleaning. The Modutek-designed software, SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation, calculates process flow. The semi-automated wet bench stations have all the features and characteristics of the manual stations but include a touch screen with a graphic user interface to control the robotics and run the process.

Fully automated wet bench stations track chemical use and ensure precise dosages and accurate process control for improved yields and excellent repeatability. The elimination of human error and fully automated control is especially important for processes with tightly packed semiconductor structures and dense circuitry. Full automation guarantees a consistent process environment that reduces defects and improves output quality.

Modutek designs, assembles and tests all robotic equipment in house and is therefore ideally situated to advise customers on solutions to meet their needs and customize equipment to fit any customer application. The company can help clearly define process requirements for their customers and then propose solutions that allow customers to determine which wafer processing station is ideal for their facility.

 

 

 

Improving Process Control with Fully Automated Wafer Fabrication Equipment

Improving Process Control with Fully Automated Wafer Fabrication EquipmentAn increasing number of silicon wafer fabrication applications, such as those with large size substrates or densely packed components, require tight process control. Accurate chemical dosage and precise process timing become critical for a high-quality output. Manual and semi-automatic controls depend on operator training and reliable operator execution of instructions, leaving open the possibility of human error and a variation in how process steps are carried out. Fully automated wet benches and chemical stations can improve process control accuracy and help with consistent execution. Software can help calculate process variables and ensure correct dosages. Full automation of the wafer fabrication process with the use of software for process control and robotics for wafer handling can result in better repeatability, reduced waste and improve production line performance.

Advantages of Modutek’s Fully Automated Wafer Fabrication Equipment

Modutek designs, develops and manufactures its wafer fabrication equipment in house to the highest quality standards. The SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software are developed and supported in house by Modutek’s technical personnel. As a result, Modutek has the expertise to determine what is needed to meet the requirements of a specific customer’s application. It can supply standard wet bench chemical stations or customized equipment to exactly meet the needs of its customers, tailoring its equipment and software to fit any special process control requirements.

To satisfy customer requirements, Modutek can draw upon its complete line of wafer fabrication equipment. Its wet benches and chemical stations can handle both solvent and acid applications, and the equipment can process sizes up to 30 inches by 60 inches. Its software can run simulations, calculate chemical dosage and track chemical use. With its in-house expertise, Modutek can offer unparalleled customer support and comprehensive after sales service.

Benefits of Fully Automated Wafer Processing Equipment

Full automation means that the process is set up and can then run repeatedly in exactly the same way without requiring any operator input. Key factors for improved process control are accurate chemical dosage, precise timing of process steps, exact replication of the process sequence and full neutralization of chemical waste. Because operation of the automated program is transparent and recorded, technical personnel can optimize the individual steps to minimize chemical use and reduce waste. Process times can be adjusted to take into account special features of the application and results can be monitored for potential problems.

When the process automation is fully optimized, consumption of chemicals is reduced. Process output stays constant, the number of defective products is lower and the products are of consistently high quality. There are fewer spills and dosage errors while employee safety is higher. Compliance with environmental regulations in terms of chemical use and discharge is easier because chemical consumption is tracked at all times and the neutralization of discharges is ensured. The process environment is consistent and the optimized process can be repeated reliably.

As a result, wafer fabrication facilities that implement full automation experience lower costs due to reduced chemical use. Yield and throughput increase while output quality remains consistent and high. Production line performance and productivity improve and facility profitability can rise.

How Modutek Can Help

With over 35 years experience in wet bench process and wafer fabrication equipment, Modutek can evaluate a customer’s process needs and offer standard equipment or customized solutions as appropriate. Their engineers can work closely with each customer to identify what is required and ensure that the equipment works as expected. Modutek’s fully automated stations are an excellent choice for reliable and technologically advanced solutions to challenging wafer fabrication requirements. If you need highly reliable wafer fabrication equipment to support your semiconductor manufacturing process call Modutek for a free consultation at 866-803-1533 or email [email protected].

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.

How the SPM Clean Process is Supported in a Wet Bench Process

How the SPM Clean Process is Supported in a Wet Bench ProcessSemiconductor manufacturing involves multiple processing steps which includes cleaning silicon wafers using wet bench technology. The SPM (sulfuric peroxide mix) clean process uses a solution of approximately 3 parts sulfuric acid to 1 part of hydrogen peroxide at about 130 degrees centigrade to strip organic material and photoresist from silicon wafers quickly and effectively.

Process engineers and facility managers using the SPM process in semiconductor fabrication have to make sure that the chemical ratio and temperature are maintained within safe limits and that the solution and wafers are contained safely in impervious baths. While the concentration may vary from 3 to 1 to a maximum of 7 to 1 and the temperature used may be as high as 140 degrees centigrade, once the solution operating values are chosen, the baths should be maintained at those concentration and temperature values to keep the strip rate uniform.

Modutek’s wet benches support the SPM process with manual, semi-automatic and fully automatic versions. Wet Bench stations are available in a wide variety of configurations as well as in custom designs. The fully automated stations use Modutek’s in house software for automatic process execution with high accuracy, reliability and repeatability. The semi-automated stations can achieve similar results with robotic controls at a lower cost. The manual stations have the same safety and process features without the cost of automation.

Quartz Recirculating Baths

To work well, the SPM solution has to be heated rapidly in a bath that can withstand high temperatures and that will not react with the aggressive chemicals. Heating has to be even and controlled within a narrow range. At high temperatures, hydrogen peroxide decomposes and the solution has to be spiked with more peroxide to maintain its concentration.

Quartz recirculating baths fulfill these requirements. The quartz can be manufactured in a pure enough form to withstand the temperatures and corrosion while the recirculation allows tight control of concentration with the adding of chemicals as required.

This spiking allows operators to use the solution for a longer period of time rather than discarding the solution when the concentration falls below acceptable levels. Re-using the sulfuric acid for as long as possible reduces costs and is desirable from an environmental point of view as well.

Modutek Series QFa Series Quartz Baths

Modutek’s Quartz Baths support the SPM clean process and satisfy key conditions for high safety and reliability as well as low cost of ownership. The tanks are made of semiconductor grade flame-polished quartz and are insulated with high density alumina silica fiber rated to 1260 degrees centigrade. The four-sided heating element promotes fast, even heating and the seamless sloped flange and the dual safety snap switch help ensure safe and convenient operation.

The quartz baths have an operating temperature range of 30 to 180 degrees centigrade and they feature a standard heat up rate of 2 degrees centigrade per minute. Operating temperature can be controlled to within plus/minus 1 degree centigrade and a liquid level sensor is available as an option.

Standard tanks are available in dimensions ranging from 7.75 to 21.5 inches inner side length and in square and rectangular formats. Depths range from 6.75 to 14.5 inches and available heaters are rated 2 to 6 KW. Modutek can design systems with custom vessel sizes to satisfy particular requirements.

Modutek’s wet bench stations and quartz baths are designed with low cost of ownership in mind while emphasizing features that reduce errors and improve reliability. Semiconductor manufacturers can achieve higher throughput and better output quality using the SPM process on the Modutek units. If you want a free consultation or quote on using quartz baths to support your wafer cleaning processes, call Modutek or email [email protected].

Silicon Wafer Etching Processes for Wet Processing Applications

Silicon Wafer Etching Processes for Wet Processing ApplicationsThe manufacture of semiconductor components such as processors and integrated circuits relies heavily on the etching of silicon wafers with processes such as KOH etching to generate the required structures and connections. Modutek provides wet bench technology that can be used for a wide variety of these etching applications. Managers in charge of semiconductor manufacturing facilities, research centers or universities as well as process engineers working at these organizations can use wet bench equipment from Modutek to meet their silicon wafer etching needs.

KOH Etching

Etching silicon wafers with potassium hydroxide (KOH) is used to create microscopic structures in the silicon. The etch rate is impacted by the temperature of the etching bath, the concentration of KOH and the crystalline structure and impurities in the silicon. KOH etching is an inexpensive and repeatable process that etches rapidly. Modutek offers PFA Teflon tanks of their TFa or TT series for KOH etching applications.

Silicon Nitride Etch

Silicon nitride is used as a masking material in the fabrication of integrated circuits. It can be deposited on the silicon wafer as a thin film and is etched with hot phosphoric acid. The bath temperature is about 180 degrees Celsius, the boiling point of phosphoric acid. The Modutek series Nb nitride etch bath achieves precise temperature control by regulating the de-ionized water to phosphoric acid ratio. Modutek’s silicon nitride etch baths offer excellent repeatability, accurate process control and a high level of safety.

Piranha Etch

The piranha solution is made up of a mixture of sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide and is used to clean silicon wafers during the semiconductor manufacturing process. A common ratio used is 3 parts of concentrated sulfuric acid to one part of 30 percent hydrogen peroxide. The solution cleans organic compounds from substrates and oxidizes most metals. It is often used to clean photoresist from silicon wafers. Modutek can evaluate a customer’s silicon wafer cleaning requirements and propose suitable solutions from its extensive line of wet processing equipment.

Metal Etch

The conductors linking the microscopic electronic structures on a silicon wafer must be metallic to conduct the electric signals. Metals such as aluminum, copper and gold are deposited on the silicon wafer and must be etched. Etching metals can be challenging and effective etching depends on selecting the right chemicals and process.

For example, the Modutek vacuum metal etcher is designed for precise wet etching of aluminum layers. The process takes place under vacuum because the chemical reaction creates hydrogen bubbles that interfere with etching precision. In the vacuum, the bubbles are immediately removed by an evacuating pump. Modutek’s wet process equipment can use a variety of etchants to etch different metals.

Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) Etch

Gallium Arsenide is a semiconductor used in the manufacture of integrated circuits and other electric and electronic devices. It is etched with solutions containing hydrogen peroxide, usually in combination with sulfuric, hydrochloric or phosphoric acids. Modutek’s wet process solutions can handle such etching chemicals at lower cost than dry etching.

Modutek Wet Bench Solutions

As a premier provider of semiconductor manufacturing equipment for over 35 years, Modutek can offer wet processing equipment for a wide variety of semiconductor etching and cleaning applications. Modutek’s wet bench technology delivers reliable, repeatable results safely and accurately. The company can help customers in industry and research find solutions to their semiconductor manufacturing needs. For a free quote or consultation on selecting the right equipment for your silicon wafer etching process, contact Modutek at 866-803-1533 or email [email protected].