News Article

Nanotronics Enhances IQE's III-V Test And Measurement Capabilities

The system, which has automated wafer loading will be used to scan semiconductor wafer products including gallium arsenide and indium phosphide based materials. The tool has built in intelligence to enable repeatable and quantifiable object recognition to identify, categorise and record wafer features in real-time


IQE has enhanced wafer inspection capabilities at its Cardiff facility with the acquisition of a new automated wafer inspection tool supplied by Ohio based Nanotronics Imaging.

The nSPEC tool enhances existing manual microscopy inspection by allowing automated loading and scanning of III-V semiconductor wafer products including GaN, GaAs and InP based materials. The tool has built in intelligence to enable repeatable and quantifiable object recognition to identify, categorise and record wafer features in real-time.



The acquisition of the tool by IQE for use in its cleanroom facilities in Cardiff, UK, follows an extensive six month evaluation where the reliability and repeatability was compared with existing inspection techniques. This is the second nSPEC tool to be installed at IQE, the first unit having been commissioned and in use at the Group’s manufacturing facility in Somerset, New Jersey.

The latest tool adds to the firm's KLA Tencor Surfscan 6220 and Leica optical microscope system which is equipped with Normarski imaging; both of these are based in the Cardiff Fab 2 cleanroom. The new system will save a lot of time in wafer inspection, particularly for 6 inch HBT wafers. I remember spending much of my time inspecting the morphology of these wafers at IQE on the optical microscope. A few years back, many of the HBT customer had a specification of less than one 100µm defect per wafer and if you were lucky, it took about 20 minutes to assess each wafer. At that time, it was difficult if not impossible to set up a Surfscan menu to assess defects of this size.

Eliot Parkinson, General Manager of IQE’s III-V manufacturing facility in Cardiff comments, “The new automated inspection system offers a compelling alternative to manual microscope inspection, with greater repeatability and significantly reduced chance of human error."

Matthew Putman, CEO of Nanotronics Imaging, adds, “Rapid inspection that gives repeatable and useful results needs to be thought of as a modern technology like the personal computer used to be, and the smart phone is now. What has traditionally been too expensive, too complicated, and provided too little relevant information now needs to have all required features and more so that all companies using wafer inspection tools can have best in class technology that is affordable."

"We are at a point of technological convergence, where our engineers can develop such a tool. We are also pleased to have worked with a global leader IQE to evaluate our tool in a high volume, semiconductor wafer manufacturing environment," he concludes.

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