Semicon Southwest: A 300 mm feast

Hank Hogan

AUSTIN, TX—To paraphrase Bob Dylan, you don't need an analyst to tell which way the market grows. A tour of Semicon Southwest revealed a continued, robust interest in 300 mm wafer production, along with a bevy of methods to monitor and minimize contamination in these future fabs.

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Interest in 300 mm continues to grow. Pictured is a Vista 80 implanter from Varian (Gloucester, MA) that incorporates Asyst FOUPs and a PRI Automation interface. (Photo courtesy of Eddie Svartzman Photography.)

“Compared to last year, there's a lot more interest in 300 mm,” notes Demi DeSoto, marketing communications manager for Pacific Scientific Instruments (Grants Pass, OR).

The event attracted a number of international attendees. This is understandable, considering the industry has just completed a year of nearly 40 percent growth, with predictions for two more good years to follow.

In Pacific Scientific's case, the company says its diode-pumped solid-state laser technology generated considerable interest among show goers. Pacific Scientific has developed two airborne particle counters, the Met One R8801/R8901, which uses solid-state lasers instead of relatively fragile and expensive helium neon gas lasers.

300 mm wafer fab projectsunder way and planned
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The Texwipe Company (Upper Saddle River, NJ) demonstrated a line of products for post-chemical-mechanical polishing (CMP) and copper cleaning. The CMP and copper manufacturing processes are comparatively dirty, producing a tool build-up that must be cleaned off. A Texwipe spokesman notes that depressed product yields have been traced to the dirt left behind by an inadequate cleanup.

EKC Technology Inc. (Hayward, CA) touted its new CMP slurry, which the company says would make particle removal and cleaning easier.

300 mm wafer fab projectsunder way and planned (con’t)
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A number of vendors touted 300 mm products. SEZ America Inc. (Phoenix) had an ultra-thin wafer handler and a 300 mm spin-processor running next to each other. Both products make use of the company's contactless Bernoulli handling system, which should lead to a cleaner wafer backside and less contamination.

Other 300 mm manufacturing products included an overhead, automated wafer handling system from Middlesex General Industries Inc. (Woburn, MA). The company's product, AUTO-WIP/DS, has been installed in a 200 mm wafer fab in Dresden, Germany. The automated system can handle either the 300 mm standard Front Opening Unified Pods (FOUPs) or traditional open wafer-carrier boats. The smoothly gliding wafer carriers in the demonstration didn't bump into each other — unless someone reached out and interfered.

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Ultra Clean Technology Systems and Service Inc. (Menlo Park, CA), a builder of gas delivery systems for semiconductor process equipment manufacturers, says the 300 mm push is so strong that the company is constructing a 3,500-square-foot cleanroom in Austin to support its customer's 300 mm tool production.

Finally, Millipore Corp. (Bedford, MA) announced plans to spin-off its microelectronics business into an independent unit. Among the new company's products will be a family of contamination control filters, such as the Wafergard MAX gas filters.


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