Fab equipment maker TES has developed a new plasma cleaner that is going through a quality test by a potential customer, TheElec has learned.
South Korean chipmakers have relied on foreign fab equipment makers for the cleaners so TES’ move is meaningful, though commercialization is likely some time away.
TES’ main products include chemical vapor deposition machines and gas phase etchers
The etchers use hydrogen fluoride to etch parts of the insulating layer on top of the wafer.
TES offers the etcher combined with a cleaning feature to its main customers.
Cleaners use either wet, dry, or vapor methods. Gas phase and plasma are considered dry methods and they are more difficult to apply but can clean photoresists and other advanced materials.
TES’ latest plasma cleaner is used to remove silicon carbon nitride on the wafer.
SiCN is almost always used to make the insulating layer on wafers as a low-k material compared to silicon oxide and silicon oxynitride.
This makes it optimal as an insulating layer between circuits that are packed together.
Meanwhile, Applied Materials is effectively the sole supplier of the plasma cleaners that are used by all chipmakers making advanced chips.