Inside Owens Design’s turnkey metrology automation platform

by Debra Vogler, senior technical editor, Solid State Technology

July 7, 2009 — Owens Design Inc. has introduced the Element, a turnkey customizable metrology automation platform, consisting of a full wafer-handling system integrated with a choice of staging and software, that enables an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to deploy a semiconductor “fab-ready” metrology tool.

The new platform can be easily customizable to meet the unique requirements of a particular metrology or inspection process, according to the company, which estimates that development time can be compressed by as much as six to nine months. Additionally, by eliminating redundant components from traditional metrology platforms through the integration of front-end module and the metrology/inspection module, the cost of the final tool can be reduced by as much as $40,000.

The platform features a vision-based alignment capability that also minimizes backside contact and eliminates the complexity and reliability problems (e.g., electro-mechanical components, through-beam sensors, gripping mechanism, etc.) inherent with conventional aligners. “We place the wafer on a pedestal and take a picture of it,” said Mark Danna, senior director of business development at Owens Design. “It’s far simpler and more reliable.”

The Element platform. (Source: Owens Design)

PeerGroup PTO software, which that company says has been deployed in over 20 fabs worldwide, is integrated into the platform, though end users can elect to choose their own host software instead. Other features include a dual FOUP wafer handling system, a 4-axis, dual-edge grip, end-effector robot, and integrated wafer staging. Owens Design’s new metrology platform is capable of handling 150mm, 200mm, and 300mm wafers. The Element mini-environment is ISO Class 1 and delivers front-side cleanliness of <0.1 particles at 0.12μm, PWP.

“New semiconductor process technologies often only have one chance to prove themselves and be adopted as the process of record,” said Danna. “The Element, which is the result the expertise gained in delivering multiple metrology platforms to leading-edge fabs, can play a key role in ensuring that chance is not wasted.” — D.V.

Dual edge grip end effector robot. (Source: Owens Design)


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