Wafer cleaning equipment suppliers have to invest heavily in research and development to keep abreast of rapidly changing technologies and changing market conditions. Single wafer processing is one such change factor, spurring demand for wafer cleaning equipment and promising a rapid increase in market size. The wet process equipment supplier market is characterized by high barriers to entry since it requires substantial initial investment with high continuing costs. On the other hand, single wafer processing in mini-fab operations is very attractive due to flexibility and the speed with which a single wafer can be processed. As a result, the market may see additional entrants while existing suppliers try to keep up with the anticipated growth.
Wafer Cleaning Equipment Market Details
The global wafer cleaning equipment market size was about US $ 4 billion in 2016 and it is expected to grow to over US $ 7 billion by 2024. While semiconductor demand generally is fueling this growth, the use of single wafer processing is one of the factors that is behind the increasing demand for semiconductor cleaning equipment. Mini-fab facilities feature short cycle times and production lines that allow semiconductor manufacturers to quickly meet changing market conditions.
Single wafer processing uses ozonized water and hydrofluoric acid in single spin technology to reduce cycle times and increase output flexibility. As increasing numbers of operators jump into this segment of the semiconductor manufacturing industry, the demand for wafer cleaning equipment is skyrocketing.
Another factor in cleaning equipment market growth is the market for printed electronics. The technology creates electronic devices by printing on substrates and requires clean wafers as an input. Its primary advantage is low cost for high volume and the outputs are inexpensive, low-performance items such as RFID tags and smart labels.
The combination of single wafer processing and the high volume expected for printed electronics means that the almost doubling of market size over the next seven years is realistic. When electronic tags proliferate in transportation and retail and processors from single wafer mini-fabs become common in many industries that are not high users of electronics at present, the need for wafer cleaning equipment as an input for these market segments becomes clear.
Single Wafer Cleaning Techniques
Single wafer processing is only competitive when the cycle times for individual wafers are low and the output quality is at least comparable to wet batch processing. Single wafer spin processing can be used to etch silicon and provide a wet process for mini-fab single wafer cleaning. Spin processing can limit etching to one side of the wafer and can be used for wafer thinning. Single wafer cleaning is often carried out with megasonic cleaning because this method dislodges the tiniest particles and results in a low particle count for the finished substrate. As semiconductor manufacturers embrace single wafer processing, single wafer cleaning equipment is being brought out in the market.
Some single wafer processes are attractive because they deliver better results than traditional processes. Megasonic cleaning in particular can reduce particle counts for the smallest particles. The cleaning method uses megasonic sound waves in the cleaning solution to generate cavitation bubbles. When the bubbles collapse due to changing sound pressure they release energy that can free tiny particles from the substrate surface. Particle counts are often lower than with chemical cleaning methods.
Modutek’s Silicon Wafer Cleaning Equipment
Modutek has over 35 years of experience in providing the latest state-of-the-art silicon wafer cleaning and processing equipment. The company can help customers with advice on semiconductor manufacturing equipment and offers a complete line of wet processing systems. Modutek is ideally situated to benefit from the increased demand for silicon wafer cleaning equipment.