While the SPM (Sulfuric acid Peroxide Mix) or Piranha process quickly removes organic contaminants such as photoresist, it is difficult to control. The cleaning action depends on both the temperature and the concentration of the mixture. Both vary if the process is left to carry on without intervention. Better controls can improve cleaning performance, reliability, and repeatability while increasing the lifespan of the mixture. Modutek has developed advanced controls that maintain temperature and concentration precisely at their desired levels to improve cleaning results.
The SPM Process Suffers from Decreasing Concentration and Slower Cleaning
The SPM mixture is typically about three parts sulfuric acid to one part hydrogen peroxide. The preparation of the mixture is highly exothermic. Once the mixture stabilizes, the wafer cleaning process occurs in a heated tank at 130 to 180 degrees centigrade. The hydrogen peroxide is unstable and decomposes to form water and oxygen. As the amount of water in the mixture increases and the concentration of hydrogen peroxide goes down, the cleaning effectiveness of the mixture deteriorates.
Small amounts of hydrogen peroxide are periodically added to the mixture to correct the problem of a decreasing hydrogen peroxide concentration. This spiking with hydrogen peroxide causes a sudden temperature increase due to the exothermic nature of the mixing process. While spiking solves the problem of a decreasing hydrogen peroxide concentration, the temperature can’t be kept constant. An SPM mixture that is not spiked is useful for about two hours, but spiking with hydrogen peroxide increases the lifespan of the mixture to about one day.
Modutek Has Developed Advanced Controls to Improve Process Results
Modutek’s “Bleed and Feed” process control strategy keeps the concentration of hydrogen peroxide and the mixture temperature within narrow limits. The temperature variations due to spiking and the need for spiking are eliminated. With concentration and temperature controlled accurately, the strip rate of the mixture remains constant and predictable. Reliable timing and repeatability of the process are excellent.
Modutek achieves these results by using a two-tank control system. The process tank is the “dirty” tank, while the second tank is the “clean” tank. At periodic intervals, a small amount of the mixture is drained from the dirty tank. It is replaced with a fresh mixture from the clean tank. The clean tank mixture is then replenished with new chemicals. A programmable controller controls the process, so the dosage intervals and the amount of mixture to be drained are adjustable and recorded by the programmable controller. As a result, once the process controls are optimized, the SPM wafer cleaning process can be run exactly the same way each time.
Modutek’s “Bleed and Feed” Reduces Costs and Provides Benefits
Customers who have switched to Modutek’s “Bleed and Feed” controls find that their costs are reduced, and the process line performance is better. Modutek’s control strategy reduces chemical use, and the mixture lasts longer when the temperature variations caused by spiking are eliminated. Downtime due to having to replace the bath chemicals is reduced as well. The risk of accidents from operators adding too much hydrogen peroxide or from spills is eliminated. In addition to savings from lower chemical purchases, reduced costs include lower chemical handling, storage, and disposal expenses.
Support for the “Bleed and Feed” Process
Modutek offers the “Bleed and Feed” process controls for the SPM process on new wet process stations. As one of the leading semiconductor equipment manufacturers, Modutek continues to work on improving its silicon wafer cleaning equipment to meet customer needs. Since Modutek designs and builds its equipment in-house, innovative features can be developed to support unique customer requirements. Wet bench processes are often specialized, and Modutek can utilize in-house expertise to customize equipment as needed. Innovation and customization make Modutek a valuable partner for wet bench technology.