Research & Development
Faster, thinner, more powerful – tailored solutions for customers are the basis for our long-term success. In order to remain successful and continue to grow in the progress- and innovation-driven semiconductor market and related markets, we expanded our research and development activities in the past fiscal year. All product lines benefited from our increased development activities and intensive cooperation with leading research facilities and universities.
Eight new products were introduced in the Lithography division to expand the manual tools product portfolio.
With SELECT, SUSS MicroTec has introduced an innovative emerging technology which expands the application spectrum of the MA8/BA8 Gen3 Mask Aligner. SELECT plasma treatment enables the targeted, selective modification of micrometer-sized areas of a material’s surface. This opens up completely new possibilities for the design and manufacture of components, particularly for MEMS applications such as microfluidic channels, biochip production, and solar technology.
In nanoimprint lithography with SCIL (substrate conformal imprint lithography), the imprint of a full-surface stamp is created on the wafer using a patented process. The new 200mm SCIL option enables the full-surface manufacture of nanostructures smaller than 50nm on wafers of up to 200mm in diameter.
The new generation of the high-precision DSM200 Gen2 alignment metrology tool represents a trend-setting device concept. Its expanded possibilities for infrared metrology and the improved ergonomics and ease of use are particularly attractive to customers in the area of 3D integration.
A completely new manual Coater for 200mm wafers, the RCD8, integrates resist coating and development in a single device for the first time, thus creating significant cost advantages for our institutional customers. Using a uniform technology platform with automated 200mm systems in the future, a customer can easily transition developed process windows to subsequent serial fabrication.
The new Altaspray12 is the big brother of the successful 200mm Delta AltaSpray Spraycoater. For the first time, a 300mm manual version is now available for spray coating. This version is particularly applicable to substrates with significant topography, for example numerous MEMS technologies and in the advanced packaging area, especially for the packaging of CMOS image sensors.
Additional refinements of the SUSS MicroTec lithography product range, two 200mm hotplates and a matching primer module, will in future provide our customers with process optimization and efficiency improvements.
Following the successful market launches in the manual Lithography area, current development activities and the most important future projects are focused on automatic production systems.
Two important product launches in the past fiscal year are creating the foundation for the future growth of the Bonder division.
SUSS MicroTec introduced a new universal device platform to the market with its new XBS300 Temporary Bonder. For the first time, all 300mm Bonder and Coater are based on uniform technologies. Consistent robotics, handling, control and management hardware, cabling, and standardized software create the basis for the rapid market readiness of future product generations, while simultaneously maintaining high quality and suitability for production. This is an important milestone for the new Company-wide development organization.
In terms of technology, SUSS MicroTec relies entirely on cutting-edge room temperature debonding processes for the temporary bonding and debonding systems used in 3D high-volume manufacturing applications. Through early development cooperation with leading customers and materials suppliers, SUSS MicroTec offers customers tailor-made solutions, particularly the freedom to choose among different processes and materials. This currently includes processes developed by the companies Thin Materials (TMAT) and Brewer Science, specifically the so-called ZoneBond® process. The first tools have been ordered and successfully delivered. In close cooperation with our customers, they have been optimized for high-volume manufacturing under industrial conditions.
Innovations in front-end mask cleaning are driven both by the requirements of the semiconductor industry’s International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) as well as the specific requirements of major electrical circuit and memory chip manufacturers.
Ever smaller patterns and ever increasing integration density create persistent demand for new lithography technologies and in turn the adaptation of the related process techniques, such as photomask cleaning, one of SUSS MicroTec’s core competencies.
The expandability and flexibility of these process and equipment technologies are thus key requirements. Among other things, they must cover several technology nodes of 193i optical lithography and be applicable for extreme UV lithography (EUVL).
With respect to EUVL, both the cleaning as such and the handling of the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) photomask play a very critical role, since it is not protected from contamination or damage like conventional photomasks by a so-called pellicle, a type of protective film. Instead, it is transported using the “dual pod system.” This system is designed to prevent the contamination of both the front and back sides. The dual pod system places high demands on automation, however, which in turn led to the development of MaskTrack® Pro InSync and its introduction in 2011. This automation equipment creates an interface between the established MaskTrack® Pro photomask cleaner and the EUVL infrastructure, in particular the exposure equipment within the wafer fabs.
With the additional integration of an inspection device for the backside in MaskTrack® Pro InSync at the end of 2011, MaskTrack® Pro InSync gained another essential function. This addresses the problem of backside contamination of EUV masks by using defect detection to verify the success of the cleaning process carried out prior on the backside of the photomask.
With these and other developments, SUSS MicroTec is taking appropriate steps to maintain and expand its market leadership and to offer complete solutions for EUVL and 193i technology.