Microtechnology poses major challenges for cleanrooms

Interdisciplinary Cleanzone Congress explores the top cleanroom themes

As a result of miniaturisation and increasing product safety requirements, ever stricter standards must be implemented and monitored for semiconductor production in cleanrooms. Pioneering technologies such as OLEDs and MEMS also pose particular challenges to cleanroom production.

High-calibre speakers from Infineon, Merck and Bosch will be analysing these aspects at the Cleanzone Congress on 21 and 22 October in Frankfurt am Main. In addition, the congress will also be exploring the entire spectrum of today's top cleanroom themes, including the planning, construction and operation of cleanrooms, and will be addressing all industries where production is carried out under cleanroom conditions.

Airborne molecular contamination

'Moore's Law', which postulates that the number of transistors on a chip will double approximately every two years, continues to hold true in the semiconductor industry. This requires a continuous reduction in the size of components, and for cleanroom production this means stricter regulations for air purity, as more and smaller particles must now be filtered out of the air.

A continuous reduction in the size of components means stricter regulations for air purity, as more and smaller particles must now be filtered out of the air

In addition to particles, airborne molecular contamination (AMC) is playing an increasingly important role in the field of semiconductor production. AMC can include vapours from such things as acids, bases, solvents and silicones. These molecules are not registered by conventional particle counters, but can still cause problems for micro-electronic components, due to such things as corrosion in the case of acids and bases, or, as with silicones, by acting as insulators that interrupt the flow of current.

Christoph Hocke, Staff Engineer at Infineon, will be offering a look at what a monitoring system for AMC should look like at the Cleanzone Congress with his presentation 'Cleanroom monitoring under the conditions of highly automated semiconductor production'.

'A qualitative and quantitative knowledge of the volume of particulate matter, and particularly of AMC, in cleanroom air is important in order to be able to master the technological challenges posed by the production of chip structures that continue to grow smaller in size,' he says. 'Recently the focus has been shifting to AMC, as particulate contamination can now be identified and managed quite well. The diversity of AMC also results in a range of impacts on semiconductor production, e.g. changes to photoresists and corrosion effects on metallised layers.

Some AMC has a direct impact on the success of production, making it a relevant quality parameter that must be monitored continuously

'Some AMC has a direct impact on the success of production, making it a relevant quality parameter that must be monitored continuously. It is only in this way that negative impacts on product quality can be recognised early on. It is important to determine such things as measurement procedures, the number of measurement points, the number of measurements conducted at each measurement point, investment and operating costs etc. in order to find the best monitoring strategy for the specific application.'

Intelligent sensors and new materials

The semiconductor industry also relies on innovative applications, new materials and technological differentiation. Examples include intelligent chips, which contain both the sensors and the associated signal processing circuits. The automotive supplier Bosch is one of the world's leading manufacturers of such semiconductors. Dr. Kilian Bilger, Director of Micro-System Technologies at Bosch, will be discussing the challenges for production in his presentation 'MEMS – Sensors for the internet of things' at the Cleanzone Congress.

MEMS is a field in which costs, size and power consumption are the main criteria for success

He discusses the high expectations for MEMS: 'The success of MEMS sensors has occurred in three waves. Bosch began developing MEMS for the automotive sector in 1993, where they were utilised in airbag systems, ESP and engine control units. The second wave began in 2005 with sensors for consumer applications, and this has since become the driving force for the development of new technologies in the field of micro-system technology. It is a field in which costs, size and power consumption are the main criteria for success. Now, the third wave is heralding a future in which intelligent sensors and sensor nodes are linked via the internet. Networked sensor systems are a key component of new applications in the internet of things and services.' In addition, the semiconductor industry has high hopes for new materials, especially with regard to improving energy efficiency.

At the Cleanzone Congress, Dr Manfred Weigand, Head of OLED Strategic Marketing Lighting for Merck, will be analysing the tremendous challenges which these lights based on organic carbon-based components pose for cleanroom production in his presentation 'OLED – Technology of the future'.

Cleanzone, the international trade fair and congress, will be bringing together users and manufacturers of cleanroom technology on 21 and 22 October 2014 in Frankfurt am Main. The international industry gathering is aimed at all industries where production is carried out under cleanroom conditions, and covers the entire product spectrum for cleanroom planning, construction and operation. More information is available online at www.cleanzone.messefrankfurt.com.

Featured Companies

Merck Group (more information, website)

See also