Energy-saving subfab controller enables idle mode

February 15, 2011 — Research organization CEA-Leti and Edwards, vacuum technology and abatement systems supplier, demonstrated an energy-saving controller system for subfabs that automatically puts process-support equipment in idle mode when fab processes are not running.

The system indirectly monitors the activity of the process tool and signals the tool’s sub-systems, vacuum pumps and abatement system to go into standby during non-process time.

It was successfully tested for reliability and energy savings on two tools at CEA-Leti and showed a 75% reduction in fuel and water use when the abatement system was in idle mode. Based on the results, Edwards will develop and launch a new energy-saving system for fab operators this year.

The co-developed system at Leti uses information from both the load lock and process pumps to determine the process status of the tool and thus can provide a signal for standby control to the subfab abatement equipment with configurable thresholds and wait times.

The project was begun after Leti engineers, as part of their involvement in sustainability and green microelectronics, discovered that vacuum pumps and abatement systems in their subfab consumed the same amount of energy whether or not the process tools were working, because there is generally no direct communication on the tool status with the subfab.

Leti and Edwards, for whom energy efficiency is a key research topic, launched a one-year co-development program in January 2010 to develop a controller system capable of monitoring indirectly the status of the process tool and signaling for the process pumps and abatement system to go into idle mode.

Edwards’ latest-generation pumps and abatement systems are designed to maximize energy savings by allowing process tools or factory automation systems to automatically switch among various low-energy (Green Mode) or high-performance operating modes to match the real-time requirements of the process.

CEA is a French research and technology public organization, with activities in four main areas: energy, information technologies, healthcare technologies and defence and security. Within CEA, the Laboratory for Electronics & Information Technology (CEA-Leti) works with companies in order to increase their competitiveness through technological innovation and transfers. CEA-Leti is focused on micro and nanotechnologies and their applications, from wireless devices and systems, to biology and healthcare or photonics. Nanoelectronics and microsystems (MEMS) are at the core of its activities. For more information, visit www.leti.fr.

Edwards is a global technology and environmental business supplying integrated solutions for the manufacture of semiconductors, flat panel displays, LEDs and solar cells as well as vacuum technology for industrial, scientific, process and R&D applications. For more information, please visit www.edwardsvacuum.com

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