A project planned to the nanometer

Catalyst for even smaller technologies now becoming part of the site plan

by Mark A. DeSorbo

The nanometer may be rocking the worlds of science, but a maker of motion-control platforms insists that the term is used too loosely.

“We see the word 'nanometer' thrown around too easily these days,” says Michael Backman, director of marketing for Anorad Corp. a Hauppauge, NY-based Rockwell Automation business that produces ultra-precision motion-control systems for original equipment manufacturers in the semiconductor, electronics, photonics and general automation markets.

“Achieving 0.01 microns, or 10 nanometer and better precision is extremely difficult in practice, particularly over large travels. In fact, it's challenging just to measure it on a machine that's designed to move,” Backman adds. “We hear people talking about the nanometer, but they often don't realize that a nanometer is the size of just a couple of water molecules.”

Proof is in the pop
To put it all in perspective, Backman explains that an ordinary can of soda sitting on a desk doesn't appear to be moving when viewed by the naked eye. Throw a laser interferometer to measure the vibrations as a person walks by that can of cola and it's a whole different ballgame.

“If you look at it, it doesn't appear to be moving, but if you walk by it, you're creating vibration, and the laser interferometer may indicate that walking by it is causing 30- to 40-nanometer vibrations,” he says.

At press time, construction crews had already erected structural steel for Anorad's 130,000-square-foot facility.
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That small amount of vibration is not going to necessarily take the flavorful fizz out of the pop, but it will certainly flatten a motion-control or precision-positioning system that chip and microelectronics manufacturers need to carve next-generation devices.

“The devices that are being manufactured today contain small critical dimensions,” Backman says. “That means the equipment has to have that same level of precision. If you're making a semiconductor device that has 130-nanometer features sizes, the equipment that you use to make that device has to have a precision level that's even better.”

Part of the plan
Long before Anorad broke ground in late March on its 130,000-square-foot facility, isolating vibration within cleanrooms was all part of the plan. The $17-million project deemed necessary to meet the demands of customers in a host of markets including semiconductors process equipment, electronics assembly and photonic and fiber-optic component manufactures.

Construction crews have poured the concrete for several 6-foot isolation pads that will rest beneath the clean manufacturing area to absorb vibration.
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“Most of the effort in our cleanroom design and construction is towards lowering the noise floor for measuring positional accuracy,” says Backman. “Vibration isolation is one of the major efforts; a tractor trailer making a delivery two buildings away can easily cause a disturbance during measurements.”

Beneath the 20,500-square-foot, ISO Class 7 manufacturing space, 6-foot-thick reinforced, specially isolated and dampened concrete pads are being installed to absorb vibration. Thermal controls for air and equipment, along with humidity and acoustical controls will also be used to further protect against measurement equipment interference.

“To protect from measurement equipment interference, special features have been employed to control electro-magnetic interference (EMI); radio frequency interference (RFI) and electro-static discharge (ESD),” Backman says.

An airflow management system, he adds, will go beyond cleanliness to manage turbulence from laminar flow and eliminate disturbances to laser interferometers when taking nanometer measurements.

“We're constructing this new facility in response to our customers' expanding needs. We continue to invest to support their future growth. While many companies have put business improvements on hold during this uncertain market, we are driving hard to be prepared to respond to our customers requirements in the coming upswing.”
-Jim Smith, Anorad Corp.

Therein lie many of the challenges, says Ken Lorello, sales manager with Clean Room Depot, a West Babylon, NY-based maker of cleanroom equipment and supplier that is working with Tritec Building Co. Inc. (Holtsville, NY) to build and furnish the controlled manufacturing environs.

“Right now we're trying to come up with the most cost-effective floor plan,” Lorello says. “We're talking with Anorad about using coated gypsum walls, with re-circulated air through an HVAC plenum that's ducted from the roof.”

Air flowing through the plenum, he says, will be conditioned before it reaches HEPA-filtered fan modules, which ultimately bring air into the cleanroom. “We will actually re-circulate clean HEPA-filtered air, and by reusing the clean air and the HVAC air, it will be more cost-effective because it minimizes the size of the mechanical system and prolongs the life of the HEPA filters,” Lorello adds.

Anorad manufactures several types of super precision positioning systems that are designed to work in a variety of high-vacuum semiconductor-manufacturing applications.
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A Trane Co. HVAC system, he says, will most likely be used on the roof. “We may go with one of [Trane's] rooftop package units that has both the air handling and condensing unit. We're not sure yet,” Lorello says.

And because building architects and construction crews were unfamiliar with these “novel isolation construction methods,” an “additional cook in the kitchen” was required.

“Anorad engineers designed some of the facility areas,” Backman says. “We also worked with Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), our energy supplier who brought in a professional energy consultant to study the facility design to maximize energy efficiency.”

Cleanrooms, Lorello and Backman say, will also be outfitted with chillers, gas and toxic substance handling systems as well as “super-clean screw air compressors for equipment air bearings that run with several micron clearances.”

Challenges ahead
Aside from isolating vibration, another interesting challenge is working with heavy component rigging.

“Our products are sometimes built with very heavy granite bases, requiring the use of overhead cranes in the sensitive [cleanroom] environments,” Backman says. “This cleanroom is a working equipment manufacturing location and precision machines sometimes weigh in excess of 10 tons.”

That means the cleanrooms will be outfitted with at least two 600-square-foot special interlock systems that will allow 10-ton pieces of equipment to be navigated via gantry through an air lock for contamination control with independent in and out locks.

The facility will also have completely isolated and dedicated electrical wiring systems and grounding to replicate multiple regional worldwide power standards for equipment testing.

“Every outlet goes back to an isolated power supply, so we have the capability to adjust the power level and test the equipment with the same input power as that piece of equipment's country of destination,” Backman says. “Here, in the United States, power requirements for most machines are 220 volts and 60 hertz, but in Europe, some places may require 380 volts at 50 hertz. There are lower 100 to 200 volt power standards in Asia.”

Applying semiconductor and other cleanroom operating standards into equipment manufacturing areas is somewhat unusual, and presents a host of challenges because of what goes on in the cleanrooms.

“It's rather unique to be working with delicate nanometer measurements, while someone across the way is using an overhead gantry crane to move a 10-ton piece of equipment,” Backman says. “Building vacuum-compatible products forces us to have disciplines and standard operating procedures for opening and handling specially prepped and bagged products.”

September completion expected
The facility will also serve as the new corporate headquarters for Anorad.

“We're constructing this new facility in response to our customers' expanding needs,” says Jim Smith, Anorad's president. “We continue to invest to support their future growth. While many companies have put business improvements on hold during this uncertain market, we are driving hard to be prepared to respond to our customers requirements in the coming upswing.”

Construction of the facility is expected to take nine months, with a completion date sometime in September. According to company officials, Anorad is paying a premium to expedite the construction process in order to be prepared for the “anticipated upturn in the business cycle.”

Project planning began more than a year ago, and officials evaluated some of the top facilities in the world. “We benchmarked the best facilities we could find in the world, not just for cleanliness, but for the mandatory environmental control needed for nanometer-level measurements with our precision equipment,” Backman says.

They also consulted their customers, cleanroom suppliers and outfitters prior to the design effort.

“We visited many of the leading laboratories, precision metrology companies and precision manufacturing facilities both in our industry and out, and gathered feedback on design features and capabilities,” Backman adds. The company also drew upon its own experience with having existing multiple cleanrooms in various facilities. It then began a detailed design cycle.

Phase 1 of the project is progressing on schedule. “So far, we're right on,” he adds.

A second phase is planned as well, and will add 70,000 square feet, bringing the total square footage to 200,000.

“This facility will enable Anorad to manufacture, test and validate its precision positioning systems at a level we believe no one else in the precision motion-control industry can,” Backman says. “The facility and overall site is scalable and expandable, allowing us to easily accommodate future growth.”

Key facts

Size of facility: 130,000 square feet, 20,500 of which will be designated ISO Class 5 and ISO Class 7 cleanroom space.
Purpose of facility: Anorad supplies the precision positioning systems to original equipment manufacturers, serving the semiconductor, electronics, photonics and other technology markets. Maintaining and measuring precision platforms at the micron or nanometer level requires the ultra-clean assembly and test areas, and while most of Anorad's products operates in a cleanroom environment, it must also be assembled in one.
Designers: In-house design team, Clean Room Depot (West Babylon, NY) and Tritec Building Co. Inc. (Holtsville, NY).



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