Why Quartz Baths Are Used in the Wafer Cleaning Process

Why Quartz Baths Are Used in the Wafer Cleaning ProcessThe cleaning of silicon wafers during semiconductor manufacturing uses strong, corrosive chemicals to remove deposits from the surface of the silicon. Critical factors for effective cleaning are an absence of contamination in the chemical bath, the impervious nature of the container and a tight control of the bath temperature. Baths made from high purity quartz don’t react with chemicals used in semiconductor manufacturing and are inert as a source of contamination. Quartz conducts heat well so fast temperature rise and accurate control are possible. A high-quality quartz bath is an ideal container for the semiconductor wafer cleaning process.

How Quartz Baths Are Used

The semiconductor manufacturing process involves multiple steps, each of which may require cleaning of the silicon wafer before or after the production process segment. Highly corrosive chemicals such as sulfuric acid, hydrogen chloride or hydrogen peroxide are used to remove materials such as organic residue from the surface of the wafers in preparation for manufacturing steps such as etching or diffusion. Effective cleaning is a critical factor in the success of semiconductor manufacturing because impurities or contaminating particles left on a wafer can lead to defective products or products of inferior quality.

During the cleaning process, the silicon wafers are immersed in chemicals within the quartz bath. Depending on the cleaning process, the baths may be heated, kept at a given temperature for a defined time period and chemicals may be re-circulated. For example, in RCA clean, wafers are first immersed in a mixture of ammonium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide. These chemicals remove organic contaminants and particles from the surface of the silicon wafers. After rinsing and drying, the wafers are immersed in a mixture of hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide. In this step metallic contaminants and particles are removed. The wafers are then cleaned for subsequent processing steps.

If particles remain on the wafers or if impurities are introduced during the cleaning process, manufacturing steps such as diffusion will be affected. With microscopic semiconductor structures, even tiny particles can obstruct an electrical connection or affect electrical characteristics. The semiconductor product may then fail prematurely or not work properly. When the quartz container is eliminated as a source of contamination, the focus is on the wafer cleaning process itself and its effectiveness in removing contaminants and particles.

How Quartz Baths Facilitate Reliable Cleaning

Quartz baths can meet all the criteria for effective cleaning of silicon wafers but they have to be designed well and constructed with top quality materials. Modutek series QFa re-circulating baths are made with semiconductor grade flame polished quartz to reduce the possibility of contamination. They feature quick, even heating and are available in a variety of standard as well as custom sizes. Operation is reliable and safe with excellent wafer cleaning performance and high quality output.

Operating characteristics include a temperature range of 30 to 180 degrees centigrade and the tanks can heat the bath at a rate of 2 degrees centigrade per minute. Temperature control is accurate within plus/minus 1 degree centigrade and heating is even through the bath. Standard tank sizes range from 7.75 inches to 21.5 inches a side with a depth of up to 14.5 inches. Custom sizes are available.

Modutek uses its experience of over 30 years designing quartz baths to deliver the highest quality baths with excellent cleaning performance. Modutek baths feature safe operation, reliable output and a low cost of ownership. The company can advise customers how best to meet their semiconductor wafer cleaning needs and can make specific proposals for solutions based on the company’s complete range of wet bench processing equipment.