ZURICH, Switzerland – Leading chipmaking equipment company Applied Materials Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) is planning to launch a deep reactive ion etch machine for small wafer sizes at the end of April, as part of a renewed commitment to the MEMS market, according to executives attending the MEMS Executive Congress Europe here on Tuesday (March 20).
The machine, derived from Applied's DPS line of plasma etch machines will help the company provide support for deep reactive ion etch (DRIE) processes with high aspect ratios that are a key part of some MEMS component production and can also be used for making through silicon vias (TSVs) for packaging.
Applied's MEMS product range includes CMP, PVD and CVD machines, Centura DRIE and MEMS release etch equipment.
"This will support sub-micron MEMS," said Mike Rosa, MEMS global product manager at Applied Materials, of the forthcoming DRIE machine at the MEMS Executive Congress Europe. As he introduced the afternoon session he showed showed a cross-section of a test chip with 200-nm critical dimensions and an aspect ratio of 110 to 1.
Applied demonstrates high aspect ratio etched columns at sub-micron dimensions. Source: Applied Materials
Chip making equipment for 200-mm wafer and smaller sizes are the responsibility of the Applied Global Services (AGS) group at Applied Materials. Jim Scholhamer, corporate vice president and general manager of the equipment products group within AGS, said that the group has its own specialized R&D enabling it to address MEMS. The group has been working hard for two years and that now results in terms of equipment would start to roll out.
"In 2008 the 200-mm market was dead. In 2009 everything was dead. But since then we have done manufacturing consolidation in Austin," said Scholhamer, who emphasized that not all chip equipment vendors make their own equipment. Once a design is completed volume production of equipment is sometimes outsourced to local assembly operations.
The executives emphasized that making equipment that is theoretically capable of creating certain features is not enough. Purchasers need to see that materials have been run through and that their requirements can be met with good up time and at minimum price and floor space.
The upcoming DRIE machine will be available as a single-chamber tool but is also a cluster tool and able to handle both 200-mm and 150-mm diameter wafers, said Zheng Yuan, general manager of the 200-mm sub-fab product division within the equipment product group of the ASG within Applied Materials.
"There is growth potential in MEMS and we continue to invest in 200-mm and below," said Rosa.