ATMI provides materials/process development and risk management support with global centers


By Carrie Meadows

In July, ATMI, Inc. (Danbury, CT) announced the launch of four High Productivity Development Centers in the United States and Asia, which the materials, process, and handling company plans to utilize to support customers integrating new semiconductor development and manufacturing processes.

At centers located in Connecticut, California, Taiwan, and Japan, ATMI personnel conduct experiments designed in collaboration with customers that can evaluate up to 192 different test chemistries at once, using fewer wafer materials.

By making it possible to assess large numbers of precisely varied chemical formulations concurrently, the technology generates large amounts of meaningful data in a very short period of time, explains Doug Neugold, CEO of ATMI.

“New materials are being introduced into manufacturing processes at an unprecedented pace???so fast that integrating them becomes a time-consuming, high-cost, high-risk proposition,” Neugold says. The customers ATMI serves, he says, are looking for help in overcoming their materials roadmap challenges, to which the company applies its chemistry, workflow, and process knowledge primarily to shorten the customer’s development time, which in turn is expected to reduce expenses and risks that could cost manufacturers precious time and materials waste.

To ensure smooth integration of the newly developed processes and/or materials, “ATMI works closely with customers throughout the development process to ensure fast and productive learning cycles,” says Joe Hillman, director of the High Productivity Development Center in Tempe, AZ. “Also during development, [we work] closely with customers and OEMs to scale processes for high-volume manufacturing.”

One example is a combinatorial workflow the company has created to speed development of a new post-chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) cleaning formulation for one of its customers. Wafers from the manufacturer had undergone normal copper metallization and CMP processes. The company’s engineers devised and conducted 1,300 experiments on 16 wafers in three-and-a-half weeks. The same tests using conventional methods, ATMI claims, would have required at least 1,300 wafers and a span of approximately six months. In addition to reducing the time required to complete the test phase, ATMI says it produced a new cleans process with a stable copper surface and low roughness that exceeded customer specs.

“Combinatorial screening telescopes multiple cycles of learning; constant feedback from ongoing test results increases the probability of success when introducing a new material,” Neugold adds. “Not only do the gains in process efficiency provide customers with a better return on their capital investment, but also lead the way to achieving higher yields.”

Contamination controls are an important part of the process development and the facility, including controlled spaces and process equipment carefully selected to provide the highest quality assurance during development. “Each High Productivity Development Lab occupies about 600 square feet of Class 1000 space, with separate space for analytical equipment. The microenvironment that wafers are exposed to during processing and measurement is Class 10,” says Hillman.

In the combinatorial workflow process, a Tempus F20 high productivity combinatorial (HPC) system from Intermolecular, Inc. (San Jose, CA) is used for parallel materials screening. A Tempus F30 system, also from Intermolecular, is used for full-wafer process integration and device performance optimization, says Hillman. The processing equipment is complemented by a suite of automated, full-wafer analytical equipment such as a Cascade Microtech (Beaverton, OR) Parametric Tester, he concludes.

Specialized informatics software that interfaces with experiment design applications and control/execution programs, as well as a separate data engine, are designed to provide customers with confirmation that new developments will integrate seamlessly into their existing processes. Findings are archived in order to provide future support for designing new studies.

Manufacturing applications for which the centers have developed new solutions for critical customer needs include copper post-CMP cleaning; non-selective oxide etching; high-dose implant strip; copper post-etch residue removal; electroless cobalt deposition; and high k, metal gate cleaning.


compiled by Carrie Meadows

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