In equipment that processes wafers in a vacuum environment, such as for ashing, there are two methods of transporting wafers to the processing chamber: the atmospheric transport method and the vacuum transport method.
The atmospheric transfer method has the advantage of being simple in structure and therefore can be set at a low price, but it has the disadvantage of requiring a certain amount of time to create a vacuum in the processing chamber after the wafer enters the chamber, resulting in a low throughput. The vacuum transfer method has a higher throughput, but the equipment is more expensive and requires time to return to atmospheric pressure to remove the wafer cassette after processing. Therefore, the equipment of this patented technology is a hybrid system that maintains a vacuum in the processing chamber at all times while maintaining the wafer cassette in an atmospheric environment without reducing throughput. This method has attracted attention because it is highly compatible with customers' automatic wafer cassette transfer mechanisms and is easy to use.
At the time of development, sales of our ashing equipment, which had been selling well, began to decline due to the evolution of competitors' equipment and technology, and we needed to introduce new equipment to the market as soon as possible.
In development, members from various departments such as Sales, Development, and Manufacturing gathered to create the concept of the new equipment and to identify various issues such as low-cost equipment configuration and trouble prevention measures. The risk of breakdowns was taken into consideration, based on the premise that the equipment would be used continuously, as only industrial machinery can, and discussions were deepened with the cooperation of the After-Sales Service Department in order to pursue easy repairs.
Discussing amongst many departments from all angles, we were able to develop a solid concept. As a result, our engineers were able to share their understanding of the issues and overcome them to create a device with "suitable qualities*", and we were able to ship it without any trouble since the demonstration stage.
*Suitable Qualities: Qualities that anyone could feel was necessary and reasonable.
In the development of equipment, it is necessary to come up with ideas from various angles to determine which methods and forms are necessary and reasonable to achieve the objectives. Without good ideas, one cannot convince the customer, nor oneself. It is important to always seek for something that many people can intuitively share the feeling that "this is suitable."
Hopefully not only those involved in the development of equipment, but also many others will continue to hone their skills and eyes to distinguish products with good characteristics, and develop even better products.
The photolithography process is the repetition of Process 2 through Process 11 in the semiconductor manufacturing process.
|1) 1nm||A transport chamber in which atmospheric conditions and vacuum conditions are repeated, and which is isolated from the processing chamber to prevent it from being opened to the atmosphere.|
|2) ArF||A transfer method in which wafer transfer between the wafer cassette and the processing chamber is performed under atmospheric pressure. The processing room repeats the vacuum state and the atmospheric state each time.|
|3) Etching||A method in which the entire equipment is evacuated with the wafer cassette, transport and processing are performed in a vacuum, and the wafer cassette is removed after returning to atmospheric pressure.|
|4) Freezing||The performance of equipment that can be processed per unit of time.|
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