How Specialized Wet Bench Equipment Improves the RCA Clean Process

How Specialized Wet Bench Equipment Improves the RCA Clean ProcessThe RCA clean process removes contaminants from the surface of silicon wafers so that additional wet process semiconductor manufacturing steps can take place. The process consists of two steps, with the SC1 step removing organic compounds and the SC2 step dislodging any remaining metallic residues or particles. Specialized wet benches ensure that contaminant and particle removal is as complete as possible and the silicon wafers remain clean. To accomplish this, the equipment carefully rinses away contaminants and minimizes the handling of the wafers. Automation can be used to replicate process parameters reliably and consistently. Modutek can supply both standard and customized specialized equipment to carry out the RCA clean process.

RCA Clean SC1 Removes Most of the Wafer Surface Contamination

The SC1 cleaning step uses chemicals to dissolve impurities while leaving the underlying silicon surface unaffected. The wafers are placed in a solution containing equal parts of NH4OH (ammonium hydroxide) and H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) in five parts of de-ionized water. The solution is heated to about 75 degrees centigrade and the wafers are left in the solution for ten to fifteen minutes. Organic residues are dissolved and particles are removed. A thin layer of silicon oxide forms on the wafer and there is some contamination with metallic ions and particles.

RCA Clean SC2 Removes Metallic Impurities

For SC2, the newly cleaned wafers are placed in a bath containing equal parts of hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide in five parts of de-ionized water. The exact ratio may vary depending on the application. The bath is heated to about 75 degrees centigrade with the wafers soaking for about ten minutes. The solution specifically eliminates alkali residues, metal hydroxides and other metallic particles. The wafers are now completely clean and free of all types of particles.

Wafer Cleaning Equipment Has to Fulfill Specialized Functions

Specialized equipment is needed to carry out RCA clean process steps effectively. The required chemicals have to be delivered in the right quantities to the cleaning baths and then, when the chemicals are no longer needed, they have to be neutralized and disposed of safely. The concentration of the chemicals, the bath temperature and the timing are all important for being able to subsequently reproduce the desired cleaning performance. Contaminants and particles have to be rinsed away and filtered out. Key features of effective cleaning are a low particle count on the wafer surface and a resulting low rejection rate for fabricated wafers.

Modutek’s Wet Process Equipment Provides Specialized Features

Modutek’s wet benches and chemical stations support both of the RCA cleaning steps. Chemical delivery systems ensure that the right amounts of chemicals are supplied to the process safely and that waste chemicals are neutralized before disposal. The FM4910 material of construction keeps particle contamination low and is safe to use with the acid and base processes of RCA clean. All baths include a continuous flow de-ionized water chamber with chemical circulation and filtration to rinse away and remove contaminants. The SolidWorks flow simulation software lets operators calibrate dosages precisely and store settings for future use.

As well as fulfilling customer needs from its extensive line of wet process equipment, Modutek can build custom systems for specific applications. Customers who wish to incorporate drying, etching or stripping functions as well as RCA clean in their process lines can rely on Modutek to design and build exactly what they need.

With 40 years of experience in the wet process and technology sector and one of the leading semiconductor equipment manufacturers, Modutek has the expertise in house to provide specialized equipment for the RCA clean process and other semiconductor manufacturing applications. Customers can count on Modutek to help them find effective solutions and supply the corresponding equipment. Contact Modutek for a free quote or consultation to discuss your process equipment requirements.

Why Pre-Diffusion Cleans Are Critical in Wafer Cleaning Processing

Why Pre-Diffusion Cleans Are Critical in Wafer Cleaning ProcessingBefore silicon wafers are placed in a diffusion furnace, they must be cleaned to remove impurities and particles from their surfaces. Such pre-diffusion cleaning takes place several times during semiconductor manufacturing as microscopic structures are fabricated in the silicon. Various wafer cleaning process methods include the use of different chemical baths, ozone treatment or megasonic cleaning for ensuring that wafers are clean and free from contamination. Modutek offers a complete range of equipment that supports the various cleaning methods and helps ensure the highest quality output from semiconductor manufacturing facilities.

Cleaning Methods

Standard cleaning methods involve immersing the silicon wafers in baths of powerful chemicals that remove contaminants and particles from the surface of the wafers. Silicon is relatively inert to reactions with the chemicals used but organic and metallic impurities on the wafer surfaces are oxidized and dissolved.

In the RCA wafer cleaning process silicon wafers are placed into a solution containing ammonium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide. This bath removes organic contaminants but may leave metallic traces. As a result, the RCA clean process is often carried out in two parts called SC1 (standard clean 1) and SC2. After the ammonium hydroxide/hydrogen peroxide (APM) bath, the SC2 step consists of a bath containing hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide (HPM). SC2 removes metal ions and leaves the wafer clean and ready for further processing.

Piranha etch clean is used to remove large amounts of organic residue from silicon wafers. It consists of a bath containing sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide and can dissolve hard to remove organic material such as photoresist. The solution’s strong oxidizing properties hydroxilate the surfaces of the silicon wafers, making them hydrophilic or attractive to water. This property may be an advantage for subsequent cleaning steps.

Megasonic cleaning is another method for obtaining clean, particle-free silicon wafers for diffusion. The method uses cavitation bubbles produced by megasonic waves in a cleaning solution to remove particles and contaminants from wafers. The bubbles produce a scrubbing action that cleans wafer surfaces without the use of expensive and corrosive chemicals.

In some cleaning applications, ozone may be used to obtain clean, particle-free silicon wafers. The wafers are first rinsed with deionized water to remove water-miscible contaminants and are then exposed to ozone in an ozone chamber.  All organic contaminants and particles are converted to carbon dioxide leaving the wafer surface clean and particle-free.

The Importance of Effective Cleaning

The presence of particles on the silicon wafer surface affects the subsequent diffusion steps and impacts the quality of the final product. Particles may be diffused into the silicon along with the doping substances and produce unknown electrical anomalies. They may remain on the surface and block subsequent etching processes to change microscopic structures. They may interfere with the creation of tiny conductor paths on the surface of the silicon and they can create chemical patches that don’t react as expected.

With the trend to smaller size geometries in silicon wafer structures, the potential damage that a single particle can cause has increased. Particles may affect the performance of a semiconductor product or its reliability. The product lifetime may be reduced or its functionality impaired. Defective products reduce plant performance while low quality products hurt the facility’s reputation. Ideally semiconductor manufacturers need equipment that will help them produce high quality semiconductors with low reject rates by emphasizing effective wafer cleaning methods with a maximum reduction in the presence of particle contamination.

Modutek Wafer Cleaning Solutions

Modutek offers a complete line of chemical baths and wet processing equipment that supports RCA clean with SC1 and SC2, piranha clean, megasonic cleaning and ozone clean. Each wafer cleaning process is designed to provide effective pre-diffusion cleaning to produce silicon wafers with a minimum of particle contamination.

In addition to traditional chemical cleaning, Modutek has pioneered advanced ozone cleaning and is using megasonic cleaning for additional particle removal for smaller device geometries. The company can help semiconductor manufacturing facilities increase their throughput, improve their performance and reduce their costs by drawing on the extensive experience they have developed in the various silicon wafer cleaning applications.