SEZ: Single-wafer cleaning gaining favor in BEOL

By Gail Flower, editor-in-chief, Advanced Packaging

Cleaning wafers for flip-chip applications represents a growing area for Zurich, Switzerland-based SEZ, says Kurt Lachenbucher, executive VP and CEO. Though it’s a niche market, it is an increasingly important area (~20% growth regularly), he explained. At the 45nm and 32nm technology nodes, particle issues become so critical that single-wafer cleaning can improve semiconductor yields. Cleaning can damage the wafer surface; therefore, methods that prevent damage grow in importance.

In the backend-of-the-line, SEZ’s equipment handles removal of polymer residue, with its DaVinci platform as its number-one seller. Its equipment cleans wafers using spin processing technology, an automated precision process that replaces batch cleaning tools. This type of cleaning represents the last critical cleaning step.

The market landscape for electronics equipment has shifted a bit, Lachenbucher noted, with shrinking electronics markets in the US and Europe as Asia becomes the engine driving sales capacity. He pointed out that SEZ saw its best sales ever in 1H07, with 75%-80% of its sales in Korea, China, Singapore, and especially Taiwan. Over the past two quarters, the frontend DRAM memory space has softened, but that will probably be temporary, he suggested. In other areas, such as NAND flash and advanced packaging, the market for cleaning equipment currently is growing. — G.F.


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