How Automated Wafer Fabrication Equipment Optimizes Process Control

How Automated Wafer Fabrication Equipment Optimizes Process ControlFully or semi-automated silicon wafer fabrication equipment can reduce errors and improve repeatability in wafer processing while at the same time increasing flexibility. Automatic controls let operators change process parameters if required for different processes or for process optimization.

Once a process runs in an optimized fashion, automated controls allow operators to make sure that the process continues to run the same way, either in a continuous mode or in batch processing. Automatic controls can ensure that an error-free process increases productivity, improves output quality, and reduces waste.

Automatic Controls Increase Operating Flexibility

Automatic controls use programmable software to specify how process steps operate and their sequence. The software determines the timing, chemical dosages, wafer transfers between stations, waste chemical neutralization, and chemical disposal. Once operators have programmed a process, they can carry out test runs and find where settings could be changed to improve the process results.

This means a process can be adapted to reflect changing requirements or can be changed so it produces better outcomes. At the same time, the process software in both semi-automated and fully automatic stations controls robotics that handles the wafers and reduce particle contamination. Automatic controls with the associated robotics can save money and produce semiconductor products with fewer defects and closer adherence to specifications.

Automated Operation with Robotics Contributes to Optimized Operations

Robotics handle and transfer the silicon wafers are a key part of the automated semiconductor manufacturing operations. For fully automated lines, multiple robots will hand the wafers down the process line. The robots have to operate to an extremely high level of precision to avoid damaging the delicate wafers and to place them precisely in the right locations. With the right robotics, properly programmed and fully automated, a semiconductor processing line can increase throughput and perform reliably to meet delivery times and volumes. Optimized process control combined with robotic speed and reliability can reduce costs and improve semiconductor fabrication facility performance.

For semi-automatic wafer fabrication equipment, the robotics generally handle less processing, however, Modutek has developed a new rotary rotation robot that can handle more process steps. The use of the rotary rotation robot can reduce the overall length and footprint size of a conventional station in a space-saving design. This allows manufacturing facilities and research labs with limited space to install semi-automatic fabrication lines using smaller stations with new robotics. As is the case for fully automated stations, semi-automatic controls and robotics can deliver increased speed, higher reliability, and improved facility performance.

Selecting the Right Automation Solution

Whether it is a fully automated process line or semi-automatic wafer processing equipment, automation can improve chemical handling and the cleaning and etching of silicon wafers. Software control ensures that chemical mixtures are correct, the timing of process steps is accurate and wafers are moved and transferred with a minimum of particle contamination. This allows wafer fabrication processes to be accurately completed with optimum efficiency and generates fewer defective components.

With more accurate process control, etch rates and yields can be higher and comprehensive tracking of variables delivers a complete picture of the process. Once the automated process has run for a large number of jobs, a saved software library gives manufacturers the ability to reuse previous configurations and the flexibility to make specific changes in the previous process runs.

Modutek Provides In-house Expertise and Support

With over 40 years of experience in wet bench technology and extensive in-house expertise in manufacturing operations, Modutek can help customers choose the right level of automation for their semiconductor fabrication line. Modutek offers free consultations and can discuss how different levels of automation and robotics usage can impact fabrication line performance. In general, the right level of automation for a semiconductor fabrication facility is one that improves process control and optimization and delivers long-term cost savings while improving output. Contact Modutek for a free consultation to discuss the details of your manufacturing equipment requirements.