Improving Wafer Processing with Automated Equipment

Fully and semi-automated wafer processing equipment can help improve wafer output quality by providing consistent chemical processing dosages and timing. However process settings must first be determined manually, then in semi-automated mode where the settings can easily be adjusted or fine-tuned.

This especially applies to new process development where the exact parameters are yet to be determined. Wafer fabrication facilities may try out the initial settings first in manual mode and make some appropriate adjustments. Then they may automate some of the processes using semi-automated stations for parts of the process that are finalized while making additional manual adjustments for optimize results. The final processing parameters can then be implemented in a fully automated station.

After the initial run, the problem areas can be identified, and variables such as chemical dosages and timing can be revised and adjusted. Skilled and experienced operators can do the fabrication steps and make changes easily on the manual station. In manual mode operators has complete control of the process. This control is important for determining the initial settings of a new process.

When the changes have been finally made on the major parts of the new process, there may still have some necessary minor adjustments necessary to achieve targets such as faster processing, better quality output or reduced usage of chemicals. For this reason, the semi-automated stations can be used to save time.

Once the parameters and variables for the desired yield and performance have been determined, a tailor-made software and automation package can be assembled. These packages are implemented in fully automated wafer processing equipment which can reproduce the custom settings of the manual and semi-automated process steps and use them to produce the desired results consistently.

Modutek can work closely with a customer to determine the best way to optimize a new process. For more details read the complete article, “Improving Wafer Processing with Automated Equipment.”If you have questions or would like a free consultation to discuss your specific needs call 866-803-1533 or email Modutek@modutek.com.

Custom Fabrication Services for Unique Wafer Processing Requirements

Research labs and semiconductor manufacturing facilities often have special requirements for certain projects or prototypes that may need custom equipment to support their manufacturing procedures.

Semiconductor manufacturing facilities may need customized tanks, carriers or chemical stations to manufacture a particular product or may need to change existing equipment based on external changes or new requirements.

When new products are developed, single items are manufactured, or prototypes are done for testing, existing wafer processing equipment being used may not be suitable for the job. There are many factors: changing suppliers and/or environment and safety regulations imposing additional requirements or changing existing ones. In such cases, retrofitting the equipment, adding new components or changing parts or any other customization may be the best and most cost-effective solution to meet the current requirements.

On the other hand – other semiconductor manufacturers want to customize their existing equipment to let themselves adapt their production lines to current requirements, to speed up production and to increase throughput.

Fortunately, Modutek can provide expertise and experience to manufacturers when customized solutions are needed to support their unique wafer processing equipment requirements.

With over 35 years of experience supporting the needs of the semiconductor manufacturers and research facilities, Modutek specializes in custom design and development. They offer a wide range of customizations that include retrofitting equipment, upgrading stations, improving chemical delivery systems, etc., to meet client specifications, safety standards and environmental regulations. By using their expertise and experience to design and build customized equipment, Modutek’s engineers know exactly what works best and how existing equipment can be modified to meet any specialized requirements.

If you have questions, or would like a free estimate, after reading our full article “Custom Fabrication Services for Unique Wafer Processing Equipment,” please feel free to call Modutek at 866-803-1533 or send an email to Modutek@modutek.com.

 

 

 

Improving Process Control with Fully Automated Wafer Fabrication Equipment

An increasing number of wafer fabrication applications require tight process control. Accurate chemical dosage and precise process timing become critical for a high-quality output.

Manual and semi-automated controls are susceptible to human error and a variation in how process steps are carried out. These processes can be improved with the use of fully-automated wet benches and chemical stations which help with consistent execution.

The combination of fully automated wafer fabrication process and software ensures better repeatability, minimized waste and improved production line performance.

Modutek designs and manufacturers their fully automated wafer fabrication equipment in-house to ensure the highest quality standards are met. In addition, Modutek has developed their own SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software, which will provide a consistent automated process and ensure correct dosages. The software can also perform simulations and track chemical use.

Modutek offers standard wet bench chemical stations or customized equipment to meet the customers’ exact standards and specific application. They can handle both solvent and acid applications, and the equipment can process sizes up to 30 inches by 60 inches.

There are a number of benefits in using fully automated wafer fabrication equipment. The process is set up and can be run repeatedly with minimal monitoring. It also allows for improved process control and accurate chemical dosage, precise timing of process steps, exact replication of the process sequence, and full neutralization of chemical waste. A fully automated process also reduces the use of chemicals. Process output remains consistent, the number of defective results is low, and production line and productivity are improved.

Read the entire article “Improving Process Control with Fully Automated Wafer Fabrication Equipment” and then call Modutek at 866-803-1533 to get a free consultation. You may also send an email to Modutek@modutek.com with any questions you may have.

Why Quartz Baths Are Used in the Wafer Cleaning Process

The cleaning of silicon wafers during semiconductor manufacturing uses harsh chemicals to remove deposits from the silicon’s surface.

The semiconductor manufacturing process includes multiple steps, each of which may require cleaning the silicon wafer before or after the production process segment. Highly corrosive chemicals (like sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide) are used to remove impurities.

For effective cleaning of the silicon wafer:

  • The contaminants and impurities should be completely removed.
  • The container used should be of an impervious nature.
  • There needs to be tight control of the bath temperature.

Without controlling these three factors during the wafer cleaning process, manufacturing such as diffusion will be affected. Even the smallest remaining particle of contaminant can obstruct an electrical connection and affect electrical characteristics. The resulting semiconductor device will be unreliable or defective.

Baths made from high purity quartz don’t react with the corrosive chemicals used in semiconductor manufacturing and are inert as a source of contamination. Thus, a high-quality quartz bath is an ideal container for the semiconductor wafer cleaning process.

During the cleaning process, the silicon wafers are immersed in a chemical within the quartz bath. The baths may be heated depending on the cleaning process, to a given temperature for a certain time period, and chemicals may be re-circulated. The chemicals in the quartz bath remove organic impurities from the surface of the wafers. Then the step of rinsing and drying the wafers will follow. The wafers are then immersed in a mixture of hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide, where the metallic impurities are removed. After that, the wafers will be subjected to processing steps.

Quartz baths, such as Modutek series QFa re-circulating baths, facilitate reliable cleaning of silicon wafers.

If you have questions about how quartz baths are used in the wafer cleaning process, please read the complete article “Why Quartz Baths Are Used in the Wafer Cleaning Process”. Contact Modutek at 866-803-1533 to discuss your specific wafer cleaning needs.

Wet Processing System for Solar Cell Manufacturing

Solar cell manufacturing facilities and research labs use wet processing equipment to etch and clean solar cell silicon wafers. Removal of wafer saw damage, silicon wafer texturing, chemical polishing and cleaning of the wafers with reliable and safe wet processing systems is an important factor to increase productivity and high quality output.

Modutek offers the latest wet bench and ozone cleaning technology to meet client requirements, whether they want to purchase standard systems or customized solutions. Modutek provides wet processing systems and equipment to a number of manufactuers in the solar cell industry.

Silicon Wafer Saw Damage Removal
When solar cell silicon wafers are cut they the surface will be damaged with an uneven crystal structure and damaged crystal lattice. These wafers are soaked in an etching bath that lifts a thin layer of damaged crystal, leaving a smooth uniform surface. Modutek’s wet processing equipment provides high throughput and accurate controls for this process.

Silicon Wafer Texturing
Solar cell silicon wafers absorb light and convert it into electricity more effectively when their front surface is etched with a microscopic texture.

For monocrystalline silicon, an etching bath lifts small pyramid shapes from the silicon’s surface, which leaves a smooth, even consistent texture. Multi-crystal silicon, on the other hand, can be etched in the same manner, but the result is not as smooth because of crystal’s different orientation. Available alternative solutions include ion-etching and masks.

Chemical Polishing
After the front, the rear side and the edges of the cell are polished by placing it in an etching bath. Polishing them improves the internal light reflection.

Ozone Pre-Cleaning
The cutting of silicon wafers with a wire saw uses a slurry applied to the wires, leaving the wafers contaminated with the slurry. To clean them, Modutek’s Ozone Cleaning Process uses ozone dissolved in a mild solution. This cleaning process yields efficient cleaning at a lower cost.

Modutek’s wet Processing System is an ideal solution for solar cell manufacturers. Discover how Modutek can assist your company by reading our complete article titled “Wet Processing System for Solar Cell Manufacturing. Contact Modutek for a free quote or consultation to discuss which equipment to use for your application.

How to Select a Supplier from Your List of Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturers

Choosing a supplier from your list of semiconductor equipment manufacturers means you’ll have to look at key factors, such as:

  • Company experience and expertise – Selecting the right semiconductor manufacturing equipment supplier will affect future productivity and output quality. In this regard, it is imperative to go for a more experienced company with a wealth of expertise in this department.
  • Customization capabilities to meet customer requirements – Manufacturers differ from one another and have their own specifications regarding the installation or upgrade of the components. Sometimes the purchased equipment needs to interface with existing systems, and sometimes the physical setup of the production facilities is a limiting factor in what can be installed. Proposed equipment often has to be customized to some degree and the supplier needs to have the experience and capability to adapt their standard solutions to specific situations.
  • Equipment reliability – Ask your supplier for references and reliability statistics regarding the equipment you have purchased. Suppliers should provide details on hours of scheduled maintenance downtime, estimates of unexpected downtime as well as records of actual installations. It’s also a good idea to check with some references who are not direct competitors of your company to verify the information from the supplier.
  • Warranties, service and customer support – It is extremely important to ask for a written guarantee from your chosen supplier before you sign a contract with him. Thoroughly read the warranty and make sure that all the details (service personnel, customer support, etc.) are included. A manufacturer who hires his own personnel — as opposed to subcontracting other employees — is a good indication of a good supplier with a competent service staff/support.

Once you have found the ideal semiconductor equipment manufacturer/supplier, you will be able to look at cost of ownership and pricing to make your final decision. Read the complete article titled “How to Select a Supplier from Your List of Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturers” to learn how Modutek can help you. If you have questions after reading the article, please call 408-362-2000.

Tips on Selecting Wafer Processing Equipment for Your Application

The semiconductor manufacturing and research industries use wet benches to produce silicon wafers that need to undergo cleaning and etching.

The wet bench equipment needs to be flexible configured to meet certain manufacturing processes. Ideally, it should be designed for both acid and solvent cleaning applications.

Usual processes used for wafer processing equipment include KOH Etching, Buffer Oxide Etching (BOE), RCA Clean, plating and Megasonic cleaning. The equipment can also be tailored to meet the customer’s specific process requirements. Customers can choose three different types of wet benches according to the budget framework and the process:

  • Fully automated stations – This offers excellent consistency of process steps and improved output quality. It is designed to precisely control the use and chemicals and process times. This leads to minimized wastes which in means in saving money as well as easier compliance with environmental regulations. Automated stations also help to reduce operator errors.
  • Semi-automated stations – This offers some features of the fully automated stations, at a much lower cost. It has servo-controlled robots which allow operators to precisely control chemical use and process times. It also has user-friendly controls.
  • Manual stations – This offers no robotics but has the same high quality process equipment as the fully and semi-automated stations.

All of Modutek’s wafer processing equipment stations are built with white propylene construction with wiring to NFPA 70 and 79, and have safety features. They can be ordered as standard units or can be customized to meet certain processing, etching or cleaning applications.

Our full article “Tips on Selecting Wafer Processing Equipment for Your Application” goes into more detail. If you have questions after reading this, please contact Modutek at Modutek@Modutek.com.

Reducing Wafer Processing Time and Costs with a Wafer Etching System

Semiconductor fabrication and research facilities can reduce wafer processing time and cost using Modutek’s rotary wafer etching system. This automated batch processor is a compact and freestanding wet bench unit with a dual tank design. It has a carrier assembly line that takes the wafer boats into the chemical tank where it provides rotational agitation for a set time. Next, it transfers the carrier assembly to the rinse tank for rinse cycles.

Once the rinse cycle is done, the carrier can be placed in the unload position were the wafer boats can be removed for drying. The rotation of the wafers in the baths is consistent, and the transfer of the wafers from the chemical tank to the rinse tank is also made much faster.

Modutek’s wafer etching system also features a touch screen control along with programmable recipes that provide full automatic wafer processing. Its microprocessor can control up to five recipes that are programmed via the touch screen. The screen displays the use and process information.

Once the operator turns on the process, the system will take control of the carrier and transfer it via the chemical and rinse cycles according to programmed values. It can accommodate multiple wafer sizes in one toll with a rotor change and it has a production capacity of up to fifty 6-inch or twenty-five 8-inch wafers at a time. Additional system options also include the capacity to handle larger wafer sizes, a chemical filtering and re-circulating system, a gravity chemical fill system, a fume condenser, and a heating/cooling system in the process tank.

Modutek’s Rotary Wafer Etching System helps in reducing wafer processing time and costs. It delivers the chemical etching, stripping, cleaning, and developing solutions for semiconductor wafers or substrates. It boasts high precision, improved safety for operators and fast processing in a compact design.

Call or email Modutek Corporation at modutek@modutek.com to discuss how a wafer etching system can save your company time and money. You can also learn more by reading our entire article “Reducing Wafer Processing Time and Costs with a Wafer Etching System.”

Modutek’s Wet Bench Design Process

Modutek’s services place a lot of emphasis in designing its line of wet bench equipment to meet the needs of their customer’s requirements.

While aiming to meet and exceed customer’s expectations, Modutek also implements a wet bench design process as well. The resulting product should have a high throughput with a long service life and a low level of downtime.

The company has direct contact with its customers who identify the specific requirements and features they need for their equipment. Then Modutek’s personnel gather the details of the customers’ application as well as develop its own criteria in order to arrive at a successful wet bench design. Modutek uses only the most advanced design tools which ensure the accuracy and precision of the models. Modutek coordinates with the customer to make sure the design, engineering, manufacturing, and integration as well as the final delivery and setup are successful. This insures that each customer will have high-quality and reliable wet bench equipment that meets (or exceeds) the requirements for their application.

Learn more about this design process by reading the article “Modutek’s Wet Bench Design Process.”

How Technology Manufacturers Use Chemical Delivery Systems

Safe handling and secure storage of chemicals, as well as their delivery in precise amounts, is the requirement of technology manufacturing. Corrosive chemicals (for etching, cleaning, plating, etc.) should be delivered to the process safely, in accurate amounts, and neutralized properly before disposal. Automated chemical delivery systems are able to handle these requirements with precision.

The key to supplying effective chemical delivery systems is an adaptable approach combined with the capability to develop systems that are tailor-made to meet the client’s specific needs.

Modutek’s Chemical Delivery Systems feature fluid paths — all made of Teflon — double containment cabinet construction, leak detection and chemical level sensing. The software that commands the chemical delivery system can be highly customizable to meet the manufacturers’ needs. These systems are flexible because of the customizable software which adapts to the manufacturer’s specific applications. For example, a company that manufactures silicon wafers may have different requirements compared to another company that makes solar cells or hard disk drives. For more details, read the full blog article “How Chemical Delivery Systems Are Used by Technology Manufacturers.” Contact Modutek Corporation at 866-803-1533 or send an email to sales@modutek.com.