The enormous demand for microchips worldwide is driving the expansion of new semiconductor manufacturing facilities and the modernization of existing fabs. This is countered by the problems of supply bottlenecks and a shortage of skilled workers. How are these challenges being met? At this year's leading trade fair, Semicon Europa in Munich from November 15 to 18, we will present our respective solutions.
1. Maximum automation and yield are the principles of every semiconductor production. The new, fully automated AP&S high-throughput platform aims to fulfill precisely these requirements. More functions in a more compact space and maximum automation were the focus of product development. The new batch system offers storage for 12 process boats as well as the connection to a stocker with up to 56 buffer locations for carriers. Up to 100 8" wafers are processed at once. Connections for chemical supply as well as all drain connections and cooling tanks are directly integrated in the equipment footprint. The process flow, wafer drying and loading have been further developed and optimized on the basis of our many years of experience with the predecessor product, the batch system A series.
2. We can also boast decisive innovations in the area of E-less processes (electroless wet chemical processing). The role of E-less plating in semiconductor manufacturing is steadily increasing. This process not only produces more stable compounds (such as covered flanks in electroless plating as opposed to open Cu flanks in electrochemical deposition), but also has the advantage that mask-less processing takes place here without lithography, thus requiring fewer process steps overall. In addition, processing is carried out in batches. This results in lower costs per wafer with optimum uniformity. Equipped with a robotic handling system, our E-less system Vulcanio processes wafers up to 300 mm fully automated and covers metallization with nickel (Ni), palladium (Pd) and gold (Au) (further metals under evaluation). Deposition on both wafer sides in one step is possible. Vulcanio equipment performance has been proven in our customers' semiconductor fabs worldwide.
3. Early this year, we launched the AP&S Academy. Our ambition is to support semiconductor manufacturers in the continuous training of personnel with regard to wet process technology. Shortage of skilled workers, fluctuation, rapid technology development - all these have a direct impact on productivity in semiconductor manufacturing. The fast and comprehensive training of new employees is as crucial for success as the further development of the existing team. The AP&S Academy offers various forms of training and training modules precisely for this purpose. Initial training for commissioning and system operation, refresher courses or in-depth courses - the training content is adapted to individual customer needs and starts where the know-how of the personnel is to be expanded.