EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- Inficon Holding AG today said it will be the first to offer a multi-sensor system for e-diagnostics in wafer fabs and process tools. The company plans to roll out its eFabGuard Global Support Network and the multi-sensor e-diagnostics system at the Semicon West trade show next month in San Francisco.
"The Inficon implementation of e-diagnostics goes far beyond the common industry interpretation," said James L. Brissenden, president and chief executive officer of the East Syracuse-based company. "While eFabGuard will certainly allow Inficon to monitor and troubleshoot our own equipment, it is uniquely positioned through FabGuard capability and various in situ diagnostic sensors to also monitor actual process conditions.
"We can see what others can't --- the net output of all process parameters," he claimed. "With eFabGuard, you can have the collective experience of Inficon experts through a secure online connection at every tool protecting every wafer."
E-diagnostics has become a hot button in the fab automation business. More than a handful of companies now are claiming to offer secure networks and Internet connections for monitoring and troubleshooting potential problems in wafer-processing tools (see feature story).
Inficon, which is publicly traded on the Swiss and Nasdaq stock exchanges, is a supplier of vacuum instrumentation for the semiconductor plants. The company said it has a "substantial installed base in 200-mm fabs." Inficon said it has been working with major semiconductorequipment manufacturers and successfully installed FabGuard sensor integration and analysis systems on 300-mm physical vapor deposition (PVD) tools at "major semiconductor end-user facilities."
According to the company, FabGuard has successfully demonstrated a reduction in the number of lost product wafers due to photoresist contamination from upstream processes. Inficon did not identify the tool suppliers or chip fabs using the integrated sensors and analysis systems.
"But this is no longer about simply detecting residual photoresist on wafers entering PVD cluster tools," Brissenden said. "Valuable as that may be, FabGuard is a versatile applications kit for virtually any process tool. Uncovering elusive mechanisms for device failure and pathways for continuous process improvement has become a way of life for Inficon. It's all about closing the loop. Once a particular problem is understood, FabGuard can be trained to detect it in the
future," he added.
The CEO suggested that chip companies with multiple wafer fabs could can use eFabGuard to more readily share information during process development and technology transfer. "For example, quite often two tools running the same recipe side by side will yield different results," he noted. "FabGuard accounts for and helps correct these differences."