Dry etching equipment maker APTC was developing a 300mm oxide etching equipment with the aim to offer it for a demo text in 2023, TheElec has learned.
Etching is a front-end process in wafer fabrication where parts of the wafer not needed after the circuit patterns are drawn are etched out.
Oxide film and gate film are formed on the wafer during fabrication and photoresist is deposited on top of these two films. The gate film uses metal or polysilicon as material. There is different etching equipment for each of these materials, from oxide, polysilicon to metal.
APTC offered etching equipment that uses plasma source to etch polysilicon first. In 2020, it succeeded in commercializing metal etching equipment.
The equipment maker began development of the new oxide etching equipment TIGRIS last year.
It began drawing the hardware blueprint for the equipment last year and has begun full-scale development this year.
Etching processing accounts for 30% of the front-end process in wafer fabrication and is in high demand from chip companies.
SK Hynix, APTC’s largest customer, spends around 3 trillion won to 4 trillion won per year on purchasing etching equipment. Etching equipment for polysilicon and oxide are used the most.
Last year, APTC recorded 178 billion won in revenue, an increase of 91.4% from 2020.
Meanwhile, APTC is also developing a new polysilicon etching equipment called Leo WS, which is expected to be commercialized earlier than TIGRIS.