Why Pre-Diffusion Cleans Are Important for Silicon Wafer Cleaning

Why Pre-Diffusion Cleans Are Important for Silicon Wafer CleaningPre-diffusion cleans are carried out several times during the semiconductor manufacturing process, and each time the chemical residues and particles on the wafers have to be removed as completely as possible. If silicon wafers still have surface contamination when they are placed in the diffusion oven, diffusion may be uneven and the resulting semiconductor products may be defective.

The several methods available for wafer cleaning either use chemical baths or Megasonic cleaners to remove surface contaminants from the silicon wafers. Modutek offers a complete line of wet bench stations that support pre-diffusion wafer cleaning as well as other semiconductor fabrication processes.

The Importance of the Pre-Diffusion Wafer Cleaning Process

The contamination with particles on silicon wafer surfaces prior to diffusion is a key factor in reducing the yield of electronic components in semiconductor fabrication plants and research facilities. Particles may be diffused into the silicon and create electric defects or they may block diffusion behind the particle. After diffusion, particles may affect etching and interfere with microscopic conductors. The resulting electronic components may have to be scrapped.

As microscopic structures in silicon become smaller and more detailed, large particles become more disruptive on both an electrical and the physical scale. Even tiny particles that were previously considered unimportant can affect the smallest silicon structures. When electronic products are defective, it affects facility productivity and reduces throughput. Performance is lower and profitability is reduced. In some cases, the products are not defective but their life expectancy may be reduced and the manufacturer’s reputation is affected. An effective pre-diffusion wafer cleaning process results in fewer defects and a higher quality output.

How Pre-Diffusion Cleaning is Carried Out

Before being placed in the diffusion oven, silicon wafers are immersed in chemical or Megasonic baths. Surface impurities are dislodged, dissolved or chemically neutralized. Complete cleaning may take more than one process and the following methods are commonly used.

RCA cleaning is a popular method consisting of two components, SC1 and SC2, where the SC stands for standard clean. For SC1, the wafers are immersed in a solution of ammonium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide. The aggressive chemicals remove all organic compounds from the wafer surfaces but may leave traces of metallic contamination. As a result, during SC2, the wafers are placed in a mixture of hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide that removes any remaining metal ions.

An alternative to the RCA standard clean methods is the Piranha clean, especially useful for applications with heavy wafer contamination. It consists of a sulfuric and hydrogen peroxide mixture that rapidly removes material such as photo resist. A further feature of Piranha clean is the hydroxylation of the silicon wafer surface, making it hydrophilic or attractive to water, a characteristic useful for some subsequent process steps.

Megasonic cleaning uses high-frequency sound waves in a cleaning solution to dislodge contaminants from the surface of the silicon wafer. This cleaning method does not use harsh chemicals, and a generator is used to produce a signal in the MHz range at a specified power level. A transducer in the cleaning tank converts the signal to sound waves in water. The sound waves create microscopic cavitation bubbles with a strong scrubbing action that removes particles. Depending on the manufacturing process, semiconductor manufacturing facilities use one of these methods for pre-diffusion cleaning.

Modutek Pre-Diffusion Cleaning Equipment

Modutek’s wet bench chemical stations provide a complete range of pre-diffusion cleaning solutions. The company can offer equipment that supports each of the above cleaning methods as well as other semiconductor fabrication processes. All of Modutek’s pre-diffusion cleaning baths produce silicon wafers with extremely low particle counts while all of the company’s equipment is designed for high quality output, fast processing and efficient operation resulting in superior manufacturing facility performance. Contact Modutek for a free consultation or quote on equipment designed to meet specific manufacturing requirements.

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

 

How Customized Equipment Has Improved the Silicon Wafer Cleaning Process

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

Customized Software

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

Custom-Fit Equipment

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

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

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

Custom Wet Bench Station Design

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

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

Customized Wet Process Systems

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

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

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

How Silicon Wet Etching Processes Are Improved with Specialized Equipment

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

Buffered Oxide Etch (BOE)

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

Piranha Etching

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

Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) Etching

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

Silicon Nitride Etching

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

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

 

New SPM Process Provides 75% Improvement in Chemical Savings

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

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

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

Benchmark Results from a Real “Bleed and Feed” Application

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

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

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

Improved SPM Process in Custom Designed Systems

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

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

 

Why Teflon Tanks Are Used with the KOH Etching Process

KOH etching is a preferred silicon wafer fabrication method because it works rapidly and reliably while handling of the chemicals is relatively safe. The process relies on a contamination-free environment and uses the temperature and KOH concentration to control the etching speed. Teflon tanks are used in this process because the Teflon is stable and doesn’t degrade. The KOH etching process controls allow accurate and repeatable temperature control for reliable fabrication results and high-quality production. KOH etching in Teflon tanks with temperature control is an excellent process for silicon wafer nanostructure fabrication in both manufacturing facilities and research environments.

How KOH Etching Works

KOH or potassium hydroxide etches silicon quickly and at a constant rate that depends on the concentration of the solution and the temperature of the liquid. In addition to these controllable variables, silicon etching is influenced by the crystal planes of the silicon and the doping concentration. These factors can be used to direct etching in certain directions and to stop etching at given points. The result is that KOH etching can produce the precise nanostructures needed as long as the crystal planes and doping are used correctly.

The controllable variables have to be kept tightly to set values and variations have to be minimized. Important factors are the maintenance of the KOH solution at the desired concentration and temperature. The Teflon tanks have to be designed to support the consistent and accurate etching necessary for defect-free wafer fabrication.

Modutek Teflon Tank Features

Modutek Teflon tanks are designed to support KOH etching leading to wafer fabrication of the highest quality. The temperature-controlled tanks are available in re-circulating and static versions and come in standard sizes for single or double carrier capacities as well as in custom sizes when required. The re-circulating tanks have an all-Teflon fluid path, and in the available custom configurations, are easy to integrate into existing fabrication lines.

Modutek Teflon tanks eliminate contamination from the tanks or fluid paths by ensuring the KOH solution only comes into contact with Teflon, which in unaffected by the corrosive chemical. In addition, Teflon welding for the tanks is carried out with advanced PFA sheet welding techniques that reduce impurities and by-products. The result is that the KOH solution stays pure.

A key element of the KOH etching process control is the initial concentration of the KOH solution and keeping it constant throughout the process step. Modutek Teflon tanks have sealed lids that minimize water loss, even during lengthy etching. Water condensing systems and de-ionized water spiking systems are available if the application requires it.

The other variable affecting the etch rate is the temperature of the KOH solution. Modutek tanks have either inline heating or immersion heating in the overflow weir. Temperature can be controlled between 30 and 100 degrees Centigrade with an accuracy of plus/minus 0.5 degrees Centigrade. Heating is rapid with an average heat-up rate of 2 to 3 degrees Centigrade per minute depending on the details of the installation. Rapid heating and tight control result in superior etching performance and consistent output.

To make operation of the KOH etching flexible and convenient, the Modutek Teflon tanks systems have standard drain interlocks and low level, high limit, and high-temperature alarms. Temperature process controllers and remote operation timers are also available.

Modutek Teflon KOH tanks are designed specifically for applications such as KOH etching and Modutek can supply custom systems specially adapted to customer requirements. Tank sizes and controls can be designed to match customer applications. Modutek can rely on its experience and expertise to supply KOH etching systems that meet the highest quality standards and deliver the best output possible.

 

Why Particle Removal is Essential in Silicon Wafer Cleaning

During silicon wafer processing, impurities and particles are deposited on wafer surfaces or are left over from previous process steps. Such particles can cause defects in the final semiconductor product. With the reduced size of today’s silicon wafer microstructures, even the tiniest particles can block etching and affect the diffusion processes. The result appears in the final semiconductor circuit as either as a defect or reduce quality and life expectancy of the product. As a result, the focus of many wafer cleaning operations is to leave the silicon wafer surface intact but free of contaminating particles.

How Particles are Removed from Silicon Wafer Surfaces

The removal of particles can be difficult because they often have a chemical or electrostatic affinity for the silicon surface. They are attracted to the silicon wafer because of electrostatic charges and specific mechanisms have to be used to dislodge and remove them. The smaller the particle, the more such attraction may play a role and the harder it is to remove every particle from the wafer.

Mechanisms to remove particles include silicon wafer cleaning with a chemical that reacts with the particles, cleaning with a solution that dissolves the particles or washing the particles from the wafer surface. In each case, a specific type of equipment is required and traditional standard processes can be used together with new technologies aimed at removing even the smallest particles.

Cleaning Processes

Many chemical processes used to clean silicon wafers have remained unchanged since they were first used 30 years ago. These methods use aggressive chemicals to remove contamination from the wafers, which are then rinsed with de-ionized water and dried. These methods remove most of the contaminants but are less effective in removing the smallest particles. Refined older methods and new technologies such as megasonic cleaning are now often used to complete the cleaning process.

Cleaning methods used at different stages of the silicon wafer fabrication process include the following:

  • The RCA clean process, often carried out in two steps called SC1 and SC2, prepares a wafer for further processing. SC1 cleans wafers with a mixture of ammonium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide to remove organic residue. SC2 uses hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide to remove metallic residues and particles.
  • The Piranha cleaning process removes large amounts of organic residue such as photoresist. It uses sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide in a particularly corrosive mixture that acts quickly but must be handled with care.
  • Megasonic cleaning dislodges particles and other contaminants using microscopic cavitation bubbles generated by a megasonic cleaning system. The bubbles form and collapse in time with the MHz sound waves, delivering a scrubbing action that overcomes particle attraction to the silicon wafer surface.
  • The Ozone cleaning process uses ozone to convert organic particles and contaminants to carbon dioxide. All organic traces on a wafer surface are completely removed, leaving the silicon wafer free from particles.

One of the most critical processes for silicon wafer cleaning is the pre-diffusion clean process that takes place just before the wafers are placed in the diffusion oven. Any of the above methods or a combination of cleaning methods can be used to ensure that wafers are free of particles and the diffusion will be even and consistent.

Equipment Used for Wafer Cleaning

Modutek’s wet bench technology supports all the above cleaning methods and can be provided within their manual, semi-automated or fully automatic systems. The company can offer equipment for traditional cleaning and for the new megasonic and ozone methods as well. All cleaning equipment is available in standard configurations but Modutek can also design custom products to meet the needs of any of their customers’ silicon wafer cleaning requirements. If you need highly reliable equipment to support your semiconductor manufacturing processes call Modutek for a free consultation or quote at 866-803-1533 or email [email protected].

 

How Pre-Diffusion Cleans Are Used in the Wafer Cleaning Process

The silicon wafers processed in semiconductor manufacturing facilities and research centers are repeatedly cleaned in aggressive chemical cleaning baths used to remove surface contaminants from the wafers. The cleaning is important because surface impurities affect the diffusion of dopants in the diffusion ovens. Depending on the next diffusion step, wafers have to be completely clean and several types of material may have to be removed. The wafer cleaning process can include multiple cleaning methods to prepare the wafers for the subsequent diffusion step.

Organic Material and Photoresist

When the previous manufacturing step included masking, wafers may still have photoresist adhering to their surfaces. Any such materials have to be removed because they will interfere with the doping process. If contamination is heavy, Piranha etch, a mixture of sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide is often used. The sulfuric acid dissolves the carbon-based compounds and the peroxide oxidizes the carbon to carbon dioxide, which is given off as a reaction product.

General Cleaning and Metallic Particles

For lighter organic contamination the two-step RCA clean process (originally developed by RCA Corporation) is often used. The first or SC1 step cleans organic contamination from the wafers but not metallic particles. The second or SC2 step removes the metallic particles and creates a protective layer on the silicon surface.

SC1 clean involves immersing the wafers in an aqueous mixture of ammonium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide. This removes traces of organic matter and non-metallic contaminants but it leaves metallic particles on the wafer surfaces. These particles have to be removed before diffusion takes place because they may otherwise be embedded into the wafer in addition to the desired doping and cause defects in the semiconductor material.

In SC2, a hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide solution in deionized water dissolves the metallic particles and leaves a clean wafer surface. In addition, a passivation layer is created that protects the silicon from further contamination. The wafers are now ready for further processing.

Native Oxide Layer Removal

The SC1 clean results in an oxide layer forming on the silicon wafers, and even if SC1 is not used, silicon oxide forms naturally on the clean, bare wafers. For some semiconductor fabrication steps, the native silicon oxide layer has to be removed. The silicon oxide layer is stable and very few chemicals can attack and remove it. Hydrofluoric acid is often used but it is extremely dangerous to handle and a safe set-up is important. Usually the wafers are dipped briefly into the acid, which acts very quickly. After a rinse with deionized water and drying, the wafers are ready for the diffusion oven.

Other Cleaning Methods

For some semiconductor fabrication processes, Modutek has pioneered wafer cleaning methods that avoid the use of harsh chemicals. Megasonic cleaning uses megasonic sound waves in a cleaning solution to dislodge particles and clean wafers. Vibrations and the cavitation bubbles of the high-frequency waves dislodge submicron particles and remove contaminating films. Modutek’s ozone treatment is a fast and cost-effective alternative to chemical cleaning for some applications. The ozone converts organic residue to carbon dioxide and does not leave metallic particles behind.

With its extensive experience in wet processing applications and its expertise in providing high-quality wafer cleaning process equipment, Modutek can advise customers on solutions for their semiconductor fabrication needs. The company can evaluate specific fabrication processes and suggest equipment from its complete line, ensuring that the proposed stations fulfill requirements safely and effectively. Modutek’s wet benches support the pre-diffusion cleaning processes as well as general cleaning, stripping and etching and they are available in manual, semi-automated and fully automated stations. Contact Modutek at 866-803-1533 for a free quote or consultation to discuss which process equipment will work best to support your application.

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.

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.

 

How the KOH Etching Process is Improved Using Modutek’s Teflon Tanks

Among the different approaches available to foundries that create intricate integrated circuitry on semiconductor chips, etching with potassium hydroxide (KOH) is frequently preferred for the error-free mass-production that it allows.

The improvement in precision that the KOH etching process brings to semiconductor fabrication is attributable in large part to the use of deionized water. When employed with high alkalinity in excess of pH 12, this process can be thermally adjusted for precise degrees of etching.

How does the use of potassium hydroxide improve the semiconductor etching process?

While dry semiconductor etching processes do exist, they tend to present challenges in process control. Semiconductor wafers etched in this way tend to suffer from quality control issues. Dry etching processes can be difficult to build and run, as well — toxic and explosive chemicals often seen as byproducts, after all.

Greater precision

Etching with potassium hydroxide offers greater precision, and lends itself to improved control, as well.

The fluids employed in the KOH etching process are stored in tanks built into the equipment. One of the most cost-effective and meaningful choices to make in KOH etching processes: to place Teflon tanks within the etching equipment in order to hold the fluids employed. Teflon tanks can make the KOH etching process safer than other options available.

It is possible to structure the KOH etching process in a way to easily create repeat manufacturing projects, as well. When such projects come in from different clients, fabrication units can focus their strengths on setting up the equipment, worrying as little as possible about safety or reliability.

Opting for fewer contaminants and greater cleanliness

Customization is one of the greatest most significant improvements that Modutek brings to the KOH etching equipment business — one where generic, mass-produced Teflon tanks are the norm. Modutek’s Teflon tanks are especially capable of bringing impurity quantities to levels that are impressively low. The result is greater reliability and consistency over an extended period of time.

Greater control

Modutek’s Teflon tanks come with highly customizable temperature settings. Temperature control is achieved either through in-line heating and cooling equipment installed, or through immersion in liquid tanks. It is precisely varied anywhere between 30°C to 100°C. Temperature changes dialed up our achieved at a fast rate of 2°C a minute, on average (although tank size does affect response rates).

Modutek brings customization to the table

Modutek designs Teflon tanks for the specific needs of each client installation. Whether a fabrication plant requires temperature controlled recirculating baths for their KOH etching processes or temperature controlled static baths, Modutek’s Teflon tanks deliver both freedom from water loss and freedom from concentration deficiency.

From dual heating Teflon tanks for fast and consistent water-based etching, to the installation of drains and valves that enable rapid cleanup, high-tech remote data interfaces, controllers and timers, Modutek’s clients have their choice of every advance in KOH etching.