Will future processing be impeded by power supply realities?

By Roman Bida, Consultant

Power converters and power supply systems in semiconductor manufacturing equipment affect their performance and the quality of the product. New developments such as the transition to 300mm wafers and ultra shallow junctions stress power source technologies. Common industry practices in the areas of power converters and systems may give rise to complexity-related problems on the tool level and the fabrication facility level.

The economics of the semiconductor industry has required simultaneously reducing the transistor size while increasing the wafer size. Those trends fundamentally conflict from the power system perspective. The reduction of the transistor size requires sources of smaller, but nearly perfect, “gentle” power. When wafer size increases, the demand for power increases. Due to the limitations of the commercially available power conversion technology, the quality of power (whether DC, HV, or RF) is reduced. Deteriorating power quality indirectly impacts the cost of processing, for example, an increase of processing time in crystal growing, yield reduction in applications utilizing plasmas (caused by charge accumulation), and increased process complexity (two step implantation/RTP instead of the low energy implant).

Power converters in semiconductor manufacturing equipment
Power systems in semiconductor manufacturing equipment employ a variety of power conversion equipment in direct current (DC, 1-2000A at 5-500V), high voltage (HV, 0.5-150kV at up to 10kW), radio frequency (RF, up to 10kW), and alternating current (AC) subsystems. The distribution network supplying electrical energy to the power converters typically involves low voltage, single- or three-phase, AC networks.

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