Motion Solutions has a long history of providing components, engineered solutions, and manufacturing services to the semiconductor industry. We are well-versed in the market forces of this sector. Semiconductor equipment vendors are tasked with building process and test equipment that operates at the highest levels of accuracy, resolution, and repeatability. At Motion Solutions, our mission is to support their mission. We combine our understanding of motion with our application knowledge to develop a repertoire of proven solutions for the industry.
Semiconductor equipment vendors and end-users face significant challenges. Positioning equipment needs to operate to micrometer-scale accuracies and sub- micron tolerances. Many of the processes used to fabricate ICs are performed under vacuum conditions. As a result, control of particulates and contamination is crucial. Even outside of the vacuum environment, a few parts per million of particulates can dramatically reduce yield. Semiconductor process steps frequently take place at high temperatures, which requires specialized materials and lubrication. Equipment may require active cooling, as well.
The MOSO Advantage
At Motion Solutions, we have a track record of working with semiconductor equipment vendors. Our primary production floor features a class-1000 clean room with a class-100 laminar flow bench. We have specialized cleaning equipment and protocols in place to control contamination. In addition, our engineering team is well-versed in the nuances of designing equipment to operate in vacuum and at high temperatures. These techniques include the use of specialized materials, coatings, and lubricants. We have a helium-leak detector that equips us to test vacuum devices. Similarly, we can evaluate the performance of water-cooled equipment using pressurized circulating water to confirm designs are leakproof.
To minimize particle generation, bearings need to be properly designed, fabricated, and run in. Even the structure of the equipment and its alignment comes into play. Semiconductor equipment requires class A finishes free of tool marks, scratches, and abnormalities that might generate particulates. Procuring, fabricating, assembling, testing, and shipping parts without damaging them is both critical and extremely challenging. Our expert staff has years of training and experience in managing this process successfully.
One of the difficulties with contamination control in semiconductor equipment is that the bearings and guides use to support motion generate particles when they are first manufactured. As a result, they need to be run in before use in a semiconductor process environment. Industry practice is to lubricate bearings at the factory, then send them to the customer for run in. The problem is that the particles then remain in the lubricant. This can either cause running performance problems or premature wear. For select, critical situations, we run in the bearings, remove the lubricant, then clean the bearings thoroughly with our recirculating ultrasonic vapor degreaser. We reassemble the now-immaculate device for final acceptance testing and shipment.
Bearings aren’t the only components that can cause contamination. If a wafer slips in a wafer-handling robot, at best it will catastrophically alter the patterning. At worst, it will slip out of the handling robot and break. At this point, the process chamber/equipment needs to be thoroughly cleaned, which can lead to days of downtime. We test our wafer-handling robots with a custom fixture that monitors wafer positioning for slippage. This equipment enables us to fine-tune our designs and perform acceptance testing on every device that goes out the door.