When semiconductor manufacturing is automated, tight process control can improve overall facility performance. An optimized manufacturing process can reduce consumption of consumables and production results are more uniform. Once a batch has run successfully, an automated process ensures that it will run the same way for subsequent batches. With good design, automation reduces silicon wafer handling and particle contamination. A wet process equipment provider has to be able to customize the automated functions to meet the needs of the application, but once it is set up, the process can run with a minimum of amount of monitoring from an operator.
Automation Can Reduce Chemical Use
An optimized automated process uses the least amount of chemicals required to carry out the etching or cleaning function and it continues to do so reliably. Spills and human error are eliminated while chemical use is tracked. Chemical treatment prior to disposal is closely monitored and neutralizing chemical use is reduced to a minimum while still ensuring compliance with environmental regulations. When overall chemical use is reduced, the cost savings can be substantial.
Output Quality is Improved with Automation
As semiconductor components and micro-structures become more tightly packed, they are more sensitive to dosage variations and process parameter inaccuracies. Processes such as etching are often dependent on temperature and chemical concentration. The timing of the process steps is critical in obtaining exactly the required etched pattern. Fully automated wafer fabrication equipment has these variables programmed in and runs the process accurately and the same way each time. Semiconductor component output is consistent with fewer defects and rejections.
Automated Neutralization Reduces Environmental Impact
Using an automated system to treat, neutralize and discharge chemical waste has several advantages. Waste from wet process manufacturing can be toxic and hazardous so human error during neutralization can have severe consequences for the environment and surrounding communities. Automation can ensure that acid and solvent chemical waste is neutralized and an automated system can block discharge if the output pH is not within predefined limits. Because all chemical use and discharge is tracked, compliance with environmental regulations can easily be demonstrated.
An Experienced Provider Can Customize Both Equipment and Automation
Depending on what kind of semiconductor components are being produced, a manufacturing or research facility may require highly customized equipment to carry out the process steps required. The automation has to flexible enough to accommodate custom process steps and the equipment provider has to be able to program the automation accordingly. Ideally, an experienced provider will work with customers to exactly define what is needed and then build the wafer fabrication equipment with the required automation. Such cooperation can result in equipment and controls designed and built for the specific purpose and delivering exceptional performance for the customer.
Modutek Designs and Builds Its Own Equipment with Automation
Modutek designs and builds its own equipment in-house based on extensive experience in wet process technology. This leaves Modutek in an ideal position to customize wafer processing equipment as needed to meet customer requirements. Because the expertise is in-house, Modutek engineers and technicians can adjust designs to reflect customer needs. This ability extends to the wet bench stations as well as to the automation that runs them.
Modutek’s SolidWorks Simulation software calculates precise dosages and process parameters and is also developed and supported in-house. Modutek can offer assistance for custom design of process stations, supporting equipment, and software to ensure customers get the systems they need. After the process line is built, installed, and tested, Modutek can provide full support with their own in-house specialists to make sure the automated semiconductor manufacturing process continues to operate as expected.