5 Important Things to Know When Buying Wet Bench Stations

Because semiconductor manufacturing relies on a large number of process steps and complicated sequencing, wet benches need to be tailored to meet requirements for a specific application. Before focusing on the process-specific requirements, there are general questions that should be answered. This helps narrow down the selection criteria before making the purchasing decision.

General questions include the level of automation, whether stainless steel solvent stations are required, whether a chemical delivery system is needed and whether any special options for rinsing and drying would be beneficial. Any process steps that require special etching or cleaning equipment can then be considered. Such a structured approach helps with selecting the best wet process station configuration and with integrating special equipment within the wet bench station.

1. Automated Wet Bench Stations

Modutek’s product line of wet benches can be fully automated, semi-automatic or manual. Fully automated stations can run batches without operator intervention and offer excellent repeatability if the same product is manufactured several times. Reliable processing with the use of the Modutek SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software helps increase throughput and yield.

Semi-automatic stations provide the same increased safety and reduction of human error as fully automated stations without the higher price of full automation. Servo-controlled robots provide high precision and reduce handling. Manual stations are a low-cost option that offers all the process features of the automated stations without the robotics and the cost of automation.

2. Stainless Steel Solvent Stations

Modutek stainless steel stations are an excellent solution for solvent applications. They are available in the manual to fully automated versions and in dry-to-dry configurations. Like the acid stations, they can be used with the Modutek SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software to calculate chemical doses and the process parameters. Solvent station design can include fume hoods and all stations satisfy fire safety standards.

3. Chemical Delivery Systems

Whether a chemical delivery system is needed depends on the volumes and types of chemicals used in the fabricating process. Chemical delivery systems help avoid spills and make tracking of chemical neutralization and disposal easier. Modutek can custom design the system to exactly meet the needs of an application and a key factor for using a chemical delivery system is when high precision is needed for the chemical dosages.

4. Rinsing and Drying

Once an etching or cleaning process step is complete, the wafers have to be rinsed and dried without introducing any contaminants or particles. Rinsing and drying equipment can fulfill special requirements and improve the process. For example, the Modutek IPA dryer combines rinsing and drying in one station while the quick dump rinser improves process efficiency. Both reduce particle contamination and improve process yields.

5. Special Etching or Cleaning Equipment

Some semiconductor fabrication may require special equipment for specific etching or cleaning process steps. For example, etching of aluminum layers on wafers or the removal of submicron particles can be carried out with wet bench equipment that Modutek has specifically designed for the purpose. Modutek’s Vacuum Metal Etcher automatically etches aluminum layers with great precision and immediately removes hydrogen bubbles as they are generated. In addition Modutek can incorporate the use of Megasonic cleaning equipment to dislodge and remove the tiniest particles from wafers to be processed. This and other kinds of specialized equipment can be integrated into the process line of a wet bench.

Modutek Can Help With the Final Selection

Once customers know the things mentioned above and the requirements of their wet process application, Modutek can suggest appropriate solutions from their complete line of wet process equipment. The company designs and builds all its own equipment and meets standard industry certifications of compliance. Because the work is all done in house, Modutek can customize equipment easily and can offer outstanding customer support and service. All equipment is tested before delivery and includes a comprehensive warranty.

Ordering a Wet Bench Station for Your Specific Process Requirements

Semiconductor manufacturing requires many process steps that must be followed and controlled in a very precise manner. Process requirements can include cleaning, etching, developing and stripping. Handling the aggressive chemicals means special attention has to be given to safety and disposal. The physical characteristics required in the production line have to be considered as well. Special features such as recirculation, heating, additional process control and degree of automation can be ordered.

Not all semiconductor equipment manufacturers can offer a complete line of wet bench stations incorporating the latest technology and using their own software. The many options and differing process requirements mean that almost every installation is customized to some extent. An experienced supplier who can provide advice and deliver the best systems is needed for achieving optimal results.

Physical Requirements Affect the Ordering Process

The three types of physical factors influencing the wet bench equipment specifications are the available space, wafer size and wafer throughput. Limited space for new installations or a requirement to integrate with an existing system may mean that compact stations are required. The baths must be able to accommodate the wafer size proposed for the application. Throughput is governed by the number of cassettes that can be processed per bath, the number of stations, the estimated process duration and the estimated downtime for replacing chemicals, maintenance and other process-related factors.

Space limitations are often critical. Factors that can reduce space requirements are what functions a station can execute and whether some functions, such as rinsing and drying, can be combined or need separate spaces. Chemical delivery systems can take space or might be placed remotely or behind the productions line. Such questions can be explored with a qualified supplier.

Throughput is often a critical variable affecting profitability. Automatic transfer of wafers between stations and automatic process control may save time. How the process is controlled, for example in a piranha “feed and bleed” type of operation, may affect how long a chemical bath can be used without changing the chemicals and may also affect downtime for maintenance. Often advanced technology from a leading supplier can increase throughput.

Wet Bench Equipment, Controls and Accessories Have to Support the Process Chemistry

Wet bench processes such as RCA clean, KOH and Piranha use highly aggressive chemicals. The equipment has to resist the corrosive substances and feature safeguards to keep operators secure. Some processes, such as silicon nitride etching, have to have special controls. Processes using especially dangerous chemicals such as hydrofluoric acid require additional safety measures.

Equipment for specific wet bench processes can include the following:

  • Quartz baths for cleaning etching and stripping applications. High temperature recirculating or constant temperature baths.
  • Teflon tanks for etching applications. Heated, recirculating and ambient temperature.
  • Silicon nitride wet etching bath. Special control features for silicon nitride removal with phosphoric acid.

Semiconductor fabrication facilities, research labs and universities that require wet process equipment first have to make sure that prospective suppliers can provide equipment with the special features needed. Heating control accuracy and precise calculation of dosages is essential for high quality output and a low product failure rate. Suppliers who manufacture, assemble and program their own equipment can be relied upon for complete after sales support and service.

Modutek Can Help

Modutek has worked closely with semiconductor fabricators and has extensive experience in providing semiconductor manufacturing equipment. The company assembles its own systems in their San Jose California facility and company specialists program their own software and controls. Modutek has state of the art wet bench stations and has pioneered improvements for processes such as silicon nitride removal and Piranha etching. With its in house expertise, the company can analyze customer requirements and propose the best solutions.

Reviewed and Approved by Douglas Wagner
President & CEO, Modutek Corporation

Why Preventative Maintenance of Wet Bench Equipment is Important

Why Preventative Maintenance of Wet Bench Equipment is ImportantTimely preventive maintenance of wet bench equipment allows semiconductor manufacturers to avoid costly unexpected downtime due to equipment failure and quality issues. Wet bench equipment is complex and is typically used in a demanding manufacturing environment. Calibration, cleaning and replacement of parts that wear out has to be performed regularly to maintain facility performance and output quality. Once scheduled, preventive maintenance has to be carried out quickly and professionally, completing the required tasks on time and using personnel with the required expertise. If the necessary preventive maintenance is not completed or is not done correctly, poor quality products, equipment damage and compromised worker safety can result.

Scheduling Preventive Maintenance

Wet bench stations operate with corrosive chemicals while at the same time relying on the highest standards of cleanliness and control of contamination. Chemical dosages and control of variables such as temperature are critical for a successful production line. Some components have to be changed, cleaned or serviced regularly while others have to be inspected to see if any action is required.

The semiconductor manufacturing equipment supplier will often specify what preventive maintenance measures are required and which ones are recommended. Some tasks can be carried out by the semiconductor manufacturer’s personnel, but others will often require specialists from the supplier. Developing an overall schedule that limits downtime for the production line to a minimum while ensuring that all preventive maintenance tasks are scheduled and carried out can be challenging.

Carrying Out Preventive Maintenance

Depending on the details of the semiconductor manufacturing operation, some preventive maintenance tasks can be performed while the line is in operation. For some lines, production steps are sequential so that a particular piece of equipment may be at rest for a given period. Preventive maintenance can then be carried out on that equipment.

Other parts of the production line may be in more or less continuous use for periods exceeding the recommended preventive maintenance interval. In such cases the required downtime has to be factored into the production schedule with reduced throughput. When all these factors are taken into account, it becomes clear that preventive maintenance for wet bench equipment may have to be flexible and reactive to manufacturing requirements rather than based on a fixed schedule.

Coordinating with a Competent Supplier

Developing an ongoing wet bench preventive maintenance program is easiest when partnering with a supplier who is familiar with the installation and who can handle all preventive maintenance tasks, even if the stations are highly customized. Such a supplier can help the semiconductor manufacturer develop and adapt a suitable schedule and help complete the work. The supplier can offer to carry out those tasks that specialists can perform quickly and competently while giving instructions for on-site semiconductor manufacturing personnel to complete simple tasks and inspections. Such an approach is ideal from the facility owner’s point of view.

Modutek can offer this type of field service and customer support because it has in house expertise based on almost 40 years of experience in the wet processing technology field. Scheduling and carrying out preventive maintenance on wet bench stations while keeping disruptions to production at a minimum requires such experienced personnel.

In addition to highly qualified specialists, Modutek designs and builds all its own wet bench stations at its manufacturing facility in San Jose. As a result, it can offer first-hand service, repair, and upgrade support without having to call on third parties. Working with a competent partner such as Modutek helps customers carry out the necessary preventive maintenance that keeps their equipment functioning at an optimum level while reducing downtime and avoiding compromised product quality.

Reviewed and Approved by Douglas Wagner
President & CEO, Modutek Corporation

 

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.

 

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].

Upgrading Used Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment and Wet Benches

Upgrading Used Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment and Wet BenchesSometimes it makes more sense to upgrade existing equipment than to buy complete new systems. Equipment may not be near the end of its useful life and new technology can often increase yield and output quality. Customers can address ongoing safety issues and reduce frequent unscheduled downtime. Upgrades can provide higher levels of automation and improved robotics can be installed.

When equipment breaks down, it may be an opportunity to replace key components while whole subsystems can be upgraded during scheduled maintenance to avoid additional downtime. By addressing known weaknesses in a production line, the overall reliability of operations can be increased. Upgrading wet bench stations and other semiconductor manufacturing equipment in this way can be a cost-effective means of improving productivity.

Specific Reasons for Upgrading Equipment

Retrofitting new components, upgrading existing equipment and repairing defective parts can often extend the life of your semiconductor manufacturing systems. Reasons for upgrading include the following:

  • Install improved technology to increase throughput
  • Upgrade components to obtain higher yield
  • Refurbish or replace equipment that is no longer supported
  • Save money by extending equipment life span
  • Accommodate larger wafers
  • Update the automatic and robotic systems and controls
  • Improve ventilation and safety
  • Upgrade electrical systems to the latest standards
  • Improve ergonomics and ease of operation
  • Improve chemical delivery system performance

Such upgrades depend on a supplier’s ability to evaluate a system’s specific requirements and implement a customized approach to install and repair components. Extensive experience with development and assembly of semiconductor fabrication equipment is a prerequisite for carrying out upgrades effectively.

Types of Upgrades Carried Out by Modutek

Modutek relies on their experience with in house development and manufacturing of wet bench and related equipment to carry out all types of upgrades, both on their own equipment and that of other manufacturers. Such upgrades can include:

  • Identifying and replacing failing parts
  • Replacing defective parts with new or retro-fitted components
  • Replacing obsolete components
  • Updating robotics, baths and wet etching components
  • Upgrading motion controls and software
  • Re-designing and improving systems within an existing footprint
  • Reconditioning existing systems to improve performance

Modutek can visit a customer’s site and perform system evaluations to develop possible upgrade, repair and retrofit scenarios. Customers can then decide how they want to proceed and Modutek can carry out the selected work.

Specific Benefits of Upgrading

Many upgrades have specific benefits associated with them and customers can rely on Modutek to carry out the work so that the expected advantages are realized. For example, upgrading controls is an effective way of improving performance. Customers can upgrade from manual or semi-automatic operation to semi-automatic or fully automatic systems to improve consistency and reduce operator errors. Upgraded controls can also reduce waste and ensure that chemical formulas are followed accurately.

Safety upgrades are often required and always reduce operator risk. Adding robotics can result in more accurate control and improved safety. When electrical systems are brought up to code, reliability often improves as well as making the systems safer. Adding ventilation, fire suppression, tank lids and fume control can improve operator comfort as well as increase safety.

Adding heaters, chillers and temperature controls can reduce process times and result in better performance. Level sensors give more accurate system feedback and adding pumps, valves and switches can result in better overall process control.

Modutek can determine whether such upgrades and retrofits make sense and then carry out the appropriate work. The company can evaluate the performance of its own older systems as well as semiconductor fabrication equipment from other manufacturers on a case by case basis that includes MEI, Amerimade, Micro Tech Process, JST Manufacturing and others. With its in house expertise, Modutek can reliably upgrade semiconductor manufacturing equipment to provide optimal performance and guarantee the results.