European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results
Content archived on 2024-05-27

Microsystems Production Evaluated Cluster Tool


The aim of this IST Take-up measure (Assessment) is to assess the latest generation High Rate Advanced Silicon Etch Cluster Tool (ASPECT-HR), manufactured by Surface Technology Systems (STS), for microsystems manufacture, by demonstrating and building confidence in its capabilities to the industrial User community, assessing its reliability in a production-style operational mode and developing processes to benefit/enable key User applications. The outcome will be a production-worthy machine with a documented set of evaluation results obtained over a long period.

The objectives are to:
(i) evaluate improvements in process specifications, including increased etch rate and aspect ratio, improved uniformity, SOI notching improvements, reduced sidewall roughness
(ii) obtain improved performance metrics over extended periods of operation
(iii) investigate options for depth measurement/end-point detection
(iv) evaluate XeF2 isotropic release etch process.

The consortium is well-balanced and consists of DERA (assessment site), STS (supplier), BCO, a leading wafer vendor, Philips and Olivetti, major companies, and VTT, a national research institute.

The aim of the proposed SEA Project is to assess the ASPECT-HR state-of-the-art High Rate Advanced Silicon Etch Cluster Tool, manufactured by Surface Technology Systems (STS), for microsystems manufacture, in order to build confidence in its capabilities and reliability in a production-style operational mode, for key Users' processes and products. The outcome will be a production-worthy machine with a documented set of evaluation results obtained over a long period. There are several factors that still limit a more widespread adoption of the etch technology from the research base to industrial manufacturing base and these have been addressed through a combination of hardware and software upgrades. Moving to a cluster system will improve throughput and enable extended 24-hour operation.

The primary objectives are to:
- Evaluate improvements in process specifications, as defined and prioritised by the Users for their processes, including
(i) increased (x2) etch rate (without compromising selectivity),
(ii) increased aspect ratio (>30:1),
(iii) improved uniformity,
(iv) SOI notching improvements,
(v) reduced sidewall roughness.
- Obtain improved equipment performance metrics (uptime, MTBF, MTTR, wafer-handling, added defects, throughput, cost-of-ownership, etc) over extended periods of operation.
- Investigate options for real-time depth measurement and end-point detection.
- Establish and evaluate a XeF2 isotropic release etch process.

Work description:
DERA, as the Assessment Site, will co-ordinate the project and provide the infrastructure and manpower to assess and improve the equipment, in conjunction with the Supplier and the Users. A User Participation Plan has been produced focusing on four generic processes. Extensive User visits will be made to the Assessment Site to develop and evaluate processes for their products.

The Users comprise BCO, a wafer vendor;
VTT, a national Research Institute;
and two large companies with specific products, Philips and Olivetti.

DERA and BCO are involved in a broad range of processes and will therefore assess the manufacturability, consistency and flexibility of the equipment. VTT will extend the process capability to sub-micron and evaluate (with DERA and STS) end-point detection systems, and also will process products for VTI, a large MEMS manufacturer for automotive protection systems. Philips and Olivetti will develop dry-etch processes to replace their existing wet-etch methods for production of decoupling capacitors and ink-jet printheads respectively. Within the first six months the prototype system will be installed and commissioned in the DERA Cleanroom. During the first assessment phase of 3 months, Users will visit the Assessment Site and develop processes and assess the performance of the equipment on their wafers. All Users will contribute to a major milestone at Month 9 to recommend improvements. The Supplier will work closely with DERA and Users to develop/implement the improvements, which will be tested by the end of Month 11. The final phase will include extensive tests, under close-to-production conditions (with 24-hour working) on large numbers of wafers over a 6-7 month period of stable operation to establish equipment usability metrics. Workshops, brochures, publications, conference presentations, etc will undertake dissemination of the results widely. The completed evaluation results will be presented at an Open Dissemination Workshop.

Month 3 - Project brochure issued
Month 6 - Equipment installed and commissioned, Users trained
Month 9 - Workshop to present 1st assessment phase results and improvement recommendations
Month 11 - Upgraded equipment tested
Month 14 - Results Bulletin issued
Month 18 - Demonstrator capacitor and ink-jet printhead products
Month 18 - Consolidated report on manufacturability of Users' key processes
Month 18 - Open Dissemination Workshop.


Call for proposal

Data not available


EU contribution
No data
United Kingdom

See on map

Total cost
No data

Participants (5)