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Miniaturisation of microchips – The impact on elastomers

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The foundations of the semiconductor industry are built upon Gordon Moore’s 1965 prediction – the numbers of transistors packed in an integrated circuit will double every two years.

As Moore’s Law pushes technology to get tighter and tighter, so do the specifications. The increase in the performance of chips means that original equipment manufacturers have to develop equipment to follow suit.

Since the 45nm was manufactured in 2007, R&D teams in the semiconductor industry have been working on developing new generations of semiconductor manufacturing techniques. Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography (EUV) is one of the most important such techniques.

EUV breathes new life into wafer manufacturing. The ability to expose fine circuit patterns in multiple layers by using 13.5 nm UV light – which bounces off a complex setup of ten multi-layered mirrors, hitting the wafer and exposing fine circuit patterns – opens up new opportunities for node migrations to go horizontally.

The prospect of making 10nm> nodes in complex horizontal layers is compacting intelligence in smarter way, resulting in a higher resolution and also providing better power efficiencies.

The advances in etch and deposition tools are as important as EUV lithography. Most of the sophisticated semiconductor processes are done in high or ultra-high vacuum. Therefore within the vacuum chambers, all components will all play a critical role in maintaining the right environment for these complex nodes.

If one component fails – like an elastomer O-ring, for example – this has a significant impact on the whole process, impacting a number of the processed wafers and yields. These issues have been known for some time, but they are expected to become more problematic as chip makers move into more complex processes with decreasing node sizes.

Particulation has always been a serious problem for the semiconductor industry. As the node sizes are getting below 10nm the requirements of the industry has becoming more stringent. Elastomer seals have always been under the spotlight for particulation and outgassing. Being one of the few organic components in the semiconductor process line, compounds could be released from the elastomer seal which are more than capable of damaging 7nm nodes.

Precision Polymer Engineering specialises in elastomer sealing solutions for critical semiconductor applications, including the ultimate in plasma-resistant material grades with extremely low trace metal contents.

PPE collaborates with industry-leading original equipment manufacturers and chipmakers in the development and extensive testing of unique materials that fit the constantly evolving semiconductor processes.

Their Perlast® G65HP material grade has a unique organic formulation which has excellent resistance to radical rich fluorine based plasmas, ensuring minimal risk of particle generation. With fewer than 10k parts per billion trace metals, G65HP is ideal for manufacturers of devices at advanced technology nodes, specifically engineered for manufacturers wishing to ensure the integrity of device electrical specifications with minimal reliability failures.

Perlast® G67G has been formulated to deliver excellent resistance to aggressive oxygen, chlorine and fluorine-based plasmas. Additionally, Perlast® G67G is developed using low levels of advanced nanoparticle filler system to minimise particle contamination. The plasma resistance of this material is maximised by dispersing individual nanoparticles perfectly in the polymer matrix, meaning that particle agglomeration or large particle contamination are far less likely for all kinds of semiconductor processing applications.


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