Why Pre-Diffusion Cleans Are Essential for Silicon Wafer Processing

Why Pre-Diffusion Cleans Are Essential for Silicon Wafer ProcessingSilicon wafers must be completely clean before they go through the diffusion process. If contaminating particles are present on the wafer surfaces during the diffusion process, they will cause defects in the final semiconductor product. Pre-diffusion cleaning can be carried out with several methods. RCA clean and Piranha etch use chemicals to strip away wafer contamination. Megasonic cleaning uses high-frequency sound waves to dislodge surface contaminants and particles. No matter which cleaning method is chosen, cleaning must be done to reduce contaminating particle counts to a minimum. An experienced manufacturer of wet process stations can integrate the required cleaning methods into wet benches. They can then ensure that the silicon wafers are cleaned thoroughly.

RCA Clean is a Common Silicon Wafer Cleaning Method

RCA clean was originally developed at the RCA corporation and remains a popular all-round silicon wafer cleaning method. It consists of two parts: Standard Clean 1 and 2 (SC1 and SC2). SC1 removes organic material but leaves metallic contamination behind. SC2 cleans the remaining metallic particles and produces a completely clean wafer.

The SC1 cleaning bath contains a solution of ammonium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide. The cleaning bath is heated to about 75 degrees centigrade, and the wafers are immersed for 10 to 15 minutes. All organic matter and many insoluble contaminants are removed, but some metallic ions stay attached to the wafer surface.

The metallic ions are removed during the SC2 cleaning step. The wafers are placed into a solution of hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide. The solution is heated to about 75 degrees centigrade, and the wafers are immersed for about 10 minutes. Once the wafers are rinsed with deionized water and dried, they are ready for the diffusion processing steps.

Piranha Etch Quickly Cleans Heavy Contamination

When silicon wafers are heavily contaminated or need to be stripped of photoresist from previous process steps, a Piranha mixture is often used to begin the wafer cleaning process. The mix of sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide quickly removes large amounts of mainly organic contaminants. While it works more rapidly than RCA clean, it operates at an elevated temperature of 130 to 180 degrees centigrade and is hard to control precisely. Modutek’s proprietary “bleed and feed” process control improves process stability. The advanced controls allow for more precise temperature settings and better cleaning performance while maintaining the rapid removal of contaminants.

Megasonic Cleaning Provides Improved Removal of Contaminating Particles

Megasonic cleaning uses high-frequency sound waves in the cleaning bath to dislodge light contamination from wafer surfaces. The cleaning method features reduced use of toxic and expensive chemicals while reducing particle counts to a minimum. Even the smallest sub-micron particles can distort diffusion and cause defects in the final semiconductor product. These tiny particles are especially difficult to remove because they tightly adhere to wafer surfaces due to static charge and surface tension. Megasonic cleaning generates microscopic bubbles in the cleaning solution. When these bubbles collapse, the resulting scrubbing action removes the particles.

Modutek’s Wet Benches Support Pre-Diffusion Cleans for Specific Wafer Processing Requirements

Modutek wet process stations support all standard silicon wafer cleaning methods. Pre-diffusion cleans can be integrated into a wet bench to satisfy specific customer requirements. Since Modutek designs and builds equipment in-house, wet bench stations can be customized to meet specific customer needs. Based on its in-house expertise, Modutek can recommend solutions for wafer processing and propose equipment from its complete line of wet process stations. Once the equipment is built and delivered, Modutek can provide continuous customer support for the supplied stations. Contact Modutek for a free consultation to discuss your specific process requirements.