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Linton Crystal software improves melt gap management

Software is first of several planned enhancements to the Kayex Intelligent Crystal Control System (KICCS)

Linton Crystal Technologies (LCT) has successfully performed the first live test of software that will enhance automated melt gap management in the crystal growing process.

Anticipated to be released early in 2019, this is the first of several planned enhancements to LCT's Kayex Intelligent Crystal Control System (KICCS). KICCS provides hardware and software process control for the Czochralski (CZ) process crystal growers Linton manufactures.

The ability to consistently maintain the melt gap is critical to growing a quality crystal. Though a laser-based system for measuring the melt gap was standard in the past, the technology is outdated.

"The laser system lost its effectiveness when heat shields were introduced to growers. Because all our grower models incorporate heat shield technology, a replacement for the laser technology has been needed," explains Jeromy Tompkins, senior software engineer for Linton Crystal Technologies.

"Our new software uses multiple techniques and more robust data, gathered from a high-resolution camera and other machine parameters, to automate the management of the melt gap during a single crystal-growing cycle as well as across subsequent cycles."

LCT recently conducted the first live test of this software where it was used during multiple crystal-growth cycles, each placing different demands on the melt gap control system.

"It was very successful at managing the gap," says Tompkins. "The test demonstrated the software's functionality."

The software was able to control the measured melt gap to a precision of 0.5 mm when holding it steady. Furthermore, equivalence between the techniques was maintained within 1 mm throughout the range of crucible travel during the growth cycles.

LCT will continue to fine-tune development and plans to release the software during the first quarter of 2019.

Based in the US, Linton Crystal Technologies develops equipment for producing monocrystalline ingots for the semiconductor and solar industries. The company specialises in silicon and produces equipment for materials such as germanium and GaAs.

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