Alliance Pushes 300-mm Wafer Production
By Susan English
Geneva, Switzerland–The rapidly changing needs of the semiconductor industry have prompted three organizations to form a technical consortium, the focus of which is the advancement of “large” silicon wafer production processes. On April 4, Jenoptik (Jena, Germany), Meissner & Wurst (Stuttgart, Germany), and Empak (Chanhassen, MN) jointly announced the formation of a “strategic alliance” aimed at tackling the challenges of 300-mm semiconductor wafer manufacture. The new company will be called INFAB (Integrated Fab Systems).
According to Jenoptik, INFAB`s ultimate goal is to produce a “blue print” cleanroom facility, featuring wafer logistics geared toward 300 mm+. In a field where larger wafers mean more die per wafer–i.e., higher yields and profits–the move to a 300-mm wafer appears not only inevitable but already fairly well upon us. But, as observed by Patrick O`Shea, President of M&W`s U.S. operations, “the current 200-mm expansion, the drive to 0.25-micron structures and 300-mm wafers will challenge the best of us.”
With U.S. operations in Fremont, CA, Jenoptik provides microfabrication, cleanroom automation, and wafer isolation technology via SMIF (Standard Mechanical Interface). Meissner & Wurst, acquired by Jenoptik in 1994, is an environmental engineering and contracting company with experience in the design and construction of advanced cleanroom systems (Class 1 or better) for the microelectronics industry. Empak (Electronic Materials Packaging), a $90 million company founded in 1980, produces isolation wafer-handling products and molding technologies for wafer protection. It also has R&D facilities to sustain the proposed research by which INFAB expects to open the “window” for 300-mm SMIF technology. Presently, the consortium represents a turnover power of $455 million.
In developing a new architectural standard for 300-mm wafer production and beyond, the three companies believe that moving the semiconductor industry to the next wafer size will require a major collaborative effort on the part of device manufacturers and equipment and materials suppliers. n