News Article

SAFC Scales Up Precursor Delivery

The chemical company is helping high-volume LED manufacturers automate the flow of reagents into their deposition tools.

Metalorganic reagent producer SAFC Hitech is making a departure into selling industrial-scale vapor distribution systems, in answer to growing demands from compound semiconductor manufacturers.

SAFC launched its EpiVapor system on June 2 to coincide with International Conference of Metalorganic Vapor Phase Epitaxy in Metz, France, to highlight the benefits over traditional small-scale reagent bubblers to the III-V audience.

“The purpose of the piece of equipment is to make the actual process of delivery into the reactor chamber cheaper," said Peter Heys, SAFC Hitech s research and development director.

The EpiVapor system pumps chemicals from a dedicated storage cabinet "“ designed specifically to handle pyrophoric materials "“ outside a semiconductor fab s cleanroom, through a series of temperature-controlled pipes. An LCD user interface displays reagent levels, pressure levels, valve configurations, fluid and vapor flows.

The pipes run into bubblers linked to deposition tools, refilling them automatically when deemed necessary by the integrated EpiSensor capacitance detection system. The overall EpiVapor system can be used to feed up to eight reactors, using hydrogen or another inert carrier gas to ensure reagent stability.

As an intermediate option for increasing precursor delivery scale that does not demand full industrial automation, SAFC is also bringing a 13 kg bubbler to market.

Heys told compoundsemiconductor.net how current bubblers create a huge expense from lost output, as reactors are shut down when they need to be replenished.

“The amount of money that s spent on downtime is hundreds and thousands of dollars per hour," he said. “The EpiVapor system safely reduces the amount of downtime in the fab."

“Instead of having to change every 500 g or 1 kg as a bubbler empties of material, it will only have to be changed after 25 kg has been used."

The EpiVapor system is primarily targeted towards ALD and MOCVD applications and could be used in a wide range of markets, including solar cells and memory. However SAFC says that the high-volume industrialization of the LED industry is the principal driving force behind its development, making it particularly well suited for use with trimethylgallium and trimethylaluminum.

“The wafer fab area of these customers has increased and therefore it has demanded an improved method of delivery to keep the rate of production of LEDs going," Heys said. “The design is on the basis of these customers' comments and demands and the feeling that we pick up through the marketplace."

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