Conax introduces a patent-pending coating that extends the life of quartz thermocouple sheaths in ASM® EPSILON® reactors up to 3X longer.

Industry: Semiconductor

Challenge: In many epitaxial processes, deterioration and failure of the quartz sheath protecting thermocouples (TCs) is the determining factor when designing maintenance schedules and can be the cause of non-scheduled maintenance activities. Such unplanned events of premature TC failure costs the Fab valuable production time and affects the maintenance budget. Conax wanted to develop a solution that could drastically increase the usage/lifetime of these TCs, and significantly reduce premature failures.

Solution: Conax embarked on an 8-year venture to develop an advanced TC sheath coating technology, partnering with a University, renowned for its specialty in Glass and Ceramic Engineering. Together, Conax Technologies and the University systematically evaluated a series of solutions to extend the life of quartz TC sheaths within the challenging process ambient created by the specifics of epitaxial processes. After years of work, a coating engineered specifically for the semiconductor grade quartz sheaths, compatible with the epitaxial process, and exceeding expectations for service life, was achieved. As a result, Conax Technologies filed with the US Patent Office, and EtchDefender™ is now a Patent-Pending design.

Impact: Thermocouples with the EtchDefender™ coating processed 11,200 wafers at a major Fab running multiple ASM® EPSILON® reactors and were removed during planned maintenance with significant life remaining. The Fab is able to use EtchDefender™ TCs three times longer than their standard TCs without any change to the process recipe or wafer quality.

Download a White Paper and view our video on the development of EtchDefender™ read more…

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