Intel takes the lead with first 300 mm lab

Meg Villeneuve

Cleanroom protocol stricter than fab in light of new technology testing and research

HILLSBORO, OR—INTEL HAS opened the world's first 300 mm research and pathfinding lab, RP1, where the company plans to demonstrate new technologies and develop prototypes for advancing technologies beyond the 0.13-micron generation. The facility stands two stories tall and houses more than 56,000 square feet of ISO Class 3 (Class 1) cleanroom space.

A researcher displays a processed wafer (above) and a researcher working at RP1 (below). Photos by Andy Craw, Washington County Communications.
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Advancing beyond 0.13 process technologies is not the only research being done at RP1, says Gerald Marcyk, director of Intel's Component Research Group. Marcyk points out that researchers are trying to develop more “environmentally friendly” manufacturing processes. “We are trying to increase the use of volatile organic compounds and are doing more with benign chemicals,” Marcyk says. One area being looked at is the removal of photoresist [VOCs].

However, those processes take time to evolve, especially the development of new chemicals, which is why the company doesn't expect to report results until 2007.

Construction of the lab took less than a year, but would have taken longer if a sub-fab had been built. “The [cleanroom] has trenches through the middle of the fab and houses support equipment above the tools,” says Marcyk.

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Marcyk says his cleanroom protocol guidelines are stricter than what is required in a fab, because of the new technologies being tested. However, he says it's interesting to note that the cleanroom is not automated. Wafers are carried to each minienvironment on personal guided vehicles. Marcyk said he'd rather spend money on proving new technologies than implementing what's already been designed.

RP1 will have only alpha and novel tool sets and is said to have one of the first Extreme UV lithography tools. “All 300 mm tools are [housed in] a minienvironment, which is integral to the tool design,” says Marcyk.

RP1 sits adjacent to D1C, which means processes can go from concept to design to prototype in RP1 and then move to D1C for production (D1C is Intel's first 300 mm development fab.) “Intel now has all stages of its 300 mm technology pipeline in place to drive the advancement of Moore's Law on a larger wafer size,” notes Sunlin Chou, senior VP and GM of Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group.

12-in. wafer. Photo by Andy Craw, Washington County Communications.
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There are a total of 100 people working exclusively for Intel's Component Research Group. These employees are working on multiple generations of technology related to the ongoing shrinking linewidths in semiconductor manufacturing. “We have a development group working on 0.10-micron and a pathfinding group working in the early stages of 70 nanometers,” Marcyk says. “Our goal is to have a pipeline [of technology] from now until the end of the decade.”


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