How Robotics Have Revolutionized Semiconductor Manufacturing

The automation over the last 25 years of wet bench stations used for semiconductor manufacturing has resulted in more efficient production and an increase in output quality. When the handling and mixing of the chemicals, the handling of the silicon wafers and the timing of the process steps were carried out manually, mistakes could result in defective products. Semiconductor equipment manufacturers have developed automation that has resulted in improved yields and less waste.

Modutek has been on the forefront of developing robotics and process control software that allows fully automatic or semiautomatic processing of silicon wafers. In this way, the entire semiconductor manufacturing process is controlled accurately and reliably. Chemical quantities and process timing are precise, process parameters are reproducible, and material handling is safe. Contamination is reduced with robotic wafer handling. For all these reasons, adding robotics to a wet bench processing line is a cost-effective solution for better facility performance.

Modutek’s Leadership in Wet Bench Robotics

During the company’s history of making wet process equipment, Modutek has focused on the integration of the latest technology in-house and with its own team of specialists. Founded in 1980, Modutek manufactured components such as quartz heated baths, nitride etch baths and rinsing systems. In 2002, Modutek acquired Sysmax Inc. with its advanced automation technology and from there developed its own robotics.

Advances in robotics have allowed Modutek and other semiconductor equipment manufacturers to offer semi-automated and fully automated stations. These wet benches and chemical stations can control the whole semiconductor manufacturing process with no or limited operator intervention. Both fully automated and semi-automated stations produce excellent process uniformity with semi-automated stations and robotics available at a lower cost if full automation is not required.

A key Modutek advantage for this type of equipment is that all process control software and robotics are designed and assembled in-house. The team working in the company’s San Jose, California manufacturing facility carry out all development work for both the SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software and for the associated robotics. All silicon wafer fabrication equipment is also tested in-house using de-ionized water. As a result, Modutek can offer unparalleled support and customization services.

Advantages and Benefits

The primary motivators for installing fully automated wafer fabrication equipment are to reduce costs and improve output quality. Elimination of human error and increased precision of chemical use means less waste and high-quality products.

Modutek’s SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software can calculate correct dosages and track chemical usage. With tighter environmental regulations, efficient chemical use not only reduces costs directly but also makes environmental compliance easier and less costly. When the composition of chemical baths is tightly controlled, the etch rate or wafer cleaning is predictable and consistent.

Automatic chemical delivery is not only more reliable than a manual procedure – it is also safer. Spills of hazardous or corrosive chemicals are less likely, and employee safety is increased.

Robotic handling of wafers can reduce contamination and deliver cleaner wafers for subsequent processing steps. The reduced size of features in semiconductor microstructures means that a single particle can block etching of a key feature or impact doping in a critical part of the semiconductor component. It is vital to keep contamination of wafers to a minimum, and robotic handling of wafers reduces the sources of particle contamination.

While some semiconductor manufacturing applications can be automated with standard solutions, in many cases the particular needs of a specific customer can require a degree of customization of the robotics and the process control software. Because Modutek does its own robotics and software design, developing custom applications is never a problem. Modutek’s team knows exactly how each part of the automated systems work and how to make the necessary adjustments.

With Modutek’s more than 35 years of experience, the company continues to promote innovation in robotics for semiconductor manufacturing. Robotics has made the wafer fabrication process more efficient, more predictable and safer. With its complete line of automated equipment, Modutek continues to bring these benefits to customers. For a free consultation or quote contact call 866-803-1533 or email [email protected]