How Piranha Etch is Used in Silicon Wafer Cleaning

How Piranha Etch is Used in Silicon Wafer CleaningThe fabrication of silicon wafers is carried out with repeated etching and cleaning steps to produce the micro-structures required for the final silicon semiconductor products. Piranha or SPM (sulfuric peroxide mix) solutions can clean organic material from wafers and oxidize most metals. The powerful chemical action that makes it a favorite for resist strip and for the cleaning of wafers with organic residue also makes it difficult to use. High quality silicon wafer cleaning equipment designed to handle the corrosive chemicals safely is required for carrying out piranha etch safely and effectively.

What is Piranha Etch and How is it Used

A piranha solution is made up of a mixture of sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide. The most common ratio is approximately three parts acid to one part peroxide but solutions of up to seven parts acid to one part peroxide are sometimes used. The solution is highly exothermic and is prepared by slowly adding the peroxide to the acid. The mixture heats up rapidly and is often used at temperatures of around 130 degrees C. Once operating temperature and the desired concentration are reached, the wet bench equipment has to heat the solution to maintain the temperature and keep the etch rate constant.

When a facility wants to re-use a piranha solution for an extended period of time, the solution must be spiked with extra hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is unstable in the solution and decomposes, reducing the etching power of the bath. Spiking with additional hydrogen peroxide lets a facility use a piranha solution for up to eight hours rather than having to replace it every two hours. Spiking saves money by conserving sulfuric acid but it requires wet bench equipment that can handle the process and the spiking.

Semiconductor fabrication facilities and research labs use piranha etching to clean residue from silicon wafers and glass. The solution removes trace organic contaminants and strip residue while oxidizing metals. The underlying surfaces are hydroxilated making them hydrophilic or attractive to water, a characteristic that can be used in subsequent silicon semiconductor manufacturing process steps.

Modutek’s Silicon Wafer Cleaning Solutions

Modutek specializes in semiconductor manufacturing equipment and wet bench technology that includes solutions for wafer cleaning. The company can supply standard equipment or can customize wet bench solutions to fit specific customer requirements. Priorities are high quality materials, excellent designs, low cost of ownership and high quality results. Piranha wafer cleaning is supported by Modutek’s QFa quartz recirculating tanks and the QA constant temperature baths. Both can be installed in a wet bench station and the process can be controlled automatically, semi-automatically or manually.

The QFa series high temperature re-circulating baths provide fast even heating over a temperature range of 30 to 180 degrees C. The heat up rate can be up to 2 degrees C. per minute and the temperature control is up to plus/minus 1 degree C. The quartz bath is made of flame-polished semiconductor-grade quartz insulated with silica fiber rated up to 1260 degrees C.

The QA series constant temperature quartz baths are made from the same materials with the same control characteristics as the QFa series but they feature a magnetic stirrer, an aspirator valve system, gravity drain and a quartz bubbler. Both baths are available in standard sizes or can be custom made to fit customer requirements.

Modutek can provide a complete range of wet bench and silicon wafer cleaning equipment that includes baths suitable for piranha cleaning applications. The equipment is designed with safe and reliable operation in mind and the cleaning equipment eliminates contaminants and impurities to the greatest extent possible. Modutek wet bench equipment allows operators to use piranha cleaning methods safely to increase facility throughput while maintaining or improving output quality. Call or email Modutek for a free quote or recommendations on using the right equipment for your wafer cleaning application.