THERMOCOAX is involved in the worldwide SEMICON market with High-end heating solutions based on Mineral Insulated cable technology.
We work on many levels of the wafer manufacturing process such as lithography, deposition, etching, ion implantation, or annealing.
With the evolution of the technology of 3D transistors, we focused our development on the ALD deposition process.
We meet the requirements of the SEMICON market in term of repeatability, temperature uniformity, control in production, quality monitoring, and COPY EXACT High volume manufacturing.
Due to our 60 years of experiences in high tech projects, our engineering capability, our production tools, our control processes, our quality procedures and our adaptability are fully in line with the requirements of our SEMICON OEM customers.
We have decided to present in this paper our development on heating chucks for ALD processes
We have developed heating chucks dedicated to the SEMICON ALD, offering a high thermal uniformity on all the surface of the chuck, a great flatness and high dimensional stability, with no brazing presence outside the chamber.
We first focused our studies on the temperature uniformity over the entire surface of the chuck at High-temperature.
We started with the prototyping phases with our OEM customers.
Each ALD process has his own specifications. So, in order to better meet the needs of our customers, we set up a team of engineers dedicated to the SEMICON market.
We have acquired in-house testing tools, and we developed our own test systems.
Up to date, we have developed chucks with up to 7 separate heating zones.
A thermocouple type K, N or J well positioned makes it possible to control the temperature of each heating zone independently.
We manage to develop multizone heating chucks with High-temperature uniformity responding to the SEMICON ALD specifications :
Complex thermal FEA – 3D THERMAL MODELING – 1.6°C surface homogeneity
The flatness of the heating chuck is also one of the most important parameters in the ALD specifications.
We work on chucks with diameters up to 450mm (18 “).
We design, machine the chucks in-house, and control the dimensions with high-performance tridimensional CMM control facilities.
Those metal chucks can be of stainless steel, Inconel or special Alloy offering high dimensional stability.
- FLATNESS: 0.05mm OR LOWER ON WAFER POCKET
- Critical dimensional tolerances
We adapt the feedthrough by offering custom bushings and flanges.
Our heating chucks are designed to be used in an ultra-high vacuum environment.
- UHV Vacuum < 10-7 Pa
THERMOCOAX has developed specific High-temperature ceramic / metal connectors compatible with high vacuum.
Because of the cleaning operation necessary for an ALD process, we developed metal chucks with a specific alloy that can resist the aggressive cleaning gas withstanding.
We also offer optional:
- Cooling channel
- Gas line
- Vacuum wafer sucking
- Anti-slice grooving
FROM PROTOTYPING TO HIGH VOLUME MANUFACTURING
To ensure the quality requirements of the SEMICON market, THERMOCOAX built a new factory in France fully dedicated to the SEMICON market with a dedicated R&D & manufacturing team.
We manufacture series according to the COPY EXACT specifications of our customers.
Our manufacturing process is fully controlled :
– Subcontractor assessment,
– Internal & External audits
– Regulatory compliance
We set up an organization in project mode to manage large production programs for a permanent improvement of our performances.
Our industrializing performance is controlled by scores :
- Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA)
- Statistical Process Control (SPC)
- Process Flow
- R&R calculation method
For High Volume Manufacturing, THERMOCOAX works with the strategy of permanent improvement in terms of :
- Manufacturing process
- Cost reduction
THERMOCOAX offers high adaptability to customers specific requests.
THERMOCOAX has a full scaled presence in the US and serves ASIA directly.
THERMOCOAX, the expert in nuclear cabling systems and instrumentation ,has been awarded a contract by ITER.
THERMOCOAX will manufacture Magnetic Diagnostics Flux Loops Cable Assemblies. This innovative cable assemblies will be based on Mineral Insulated cable technology and will be installed in the ITER Vacuum Vessel.
This project represents an important milestone in THERMOCOAX nuclear business unit expansion and pave the way for others applications in FUSION reactors.
THERMOCOAX offers support to its customers through the design, delivery and support phases of a program.
THERMOCOAX has over 60 years of expertise in cabling solutions and instrumentation. It provides solutions in the world of nuclear, aerospace and semicon industries. It design, qualify and manufactures sensors for harsh environment with a focus on nuclear on cabling solutions and connectors.
ITER (“The Way” in Latin) is one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world today. 35 nations are collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy.
The heart of a tokamak is its doughnut-shaped vacuum vessel. Inside, under the influence of extreme heat and pressure, gaseous hydrogen fuel becomes a plasma.
THERMOCOAX received Certificate of excellence from Rolls Royce Civil Nuclear in recognition of efforts placed in the Quality control of signal transmission projects.
Quality performance requires constant effort and dedication to reach the highest standards of Nuclear Industry.
THERMOCOAX has demonstrated once again our the ability to reach superior achievements in the demanding Nuclear market.
CNPRI and THERMOCOAX have been awarded a contract for early 2017 to provide the InCore Instrumentation of HUALONG reactor (HPR1000).
In continuation of this contract , CNPRI and THERMOCOAX have this week signed a cooperation agreement for the next HUALONG reactors. This agreement is paving the way of future common successes in reactor I&C.
Thermocoax的HAF 604 认证已被中国延至2022年。值此之际，总裁Dominique Mallet接受了GIIN的采访。
DM –在结束国际工业集团任职后，我于2013年年底加入Thermocoax。当时，和这个行业内的众多企业一样，我们面临着全球核市场的不确定性。当时我们的目标之一便是保留技术产品和重大项目中的专业技能，同时拓展国际业务。Thermocoax旗下共有260名员工，分布在4个生产基地（其中包括诺曼底核电专用基地）以及2个产品专业中心。在这些中心实现新产品的开发、设计和工业化流程。中心立足于我们的旗舰技术 – 矿物绝缘电缆、加热硅胶产品以及测量和信号传输系统。
DM –事实上，自1957年公司成立以来，核电一直是我们的精髓。当时公司命名为核能研究与开发股份公司（Société Anonyme d’Etudes & réalisations nucléaires）。1982年之后，公司更名为Thermocoax。我们核工业的真正开端始于法国的CEA和美国的通用集团。随后，我们多次携手Framatome、 Areva和EDF开展硕果累累的合作。时至今日，我们是已安装稳压器电加热元件数量居首位的公司。
DM – HAF 604认证旨在认可境外公司的贡献。该认证用于确认和管理参与中方项目的供应商群体。这是必不可少的一环。同时，该步骤也遵循自愿的原则，因为认证需要非常行业性和细致性的证明，并且，我们也希望保护公司的技术。
关于Thermocoax – NDLR –
Interview with Dominique Mallet, President of Thermocoax
Thermocoax’s HAF 604 certificate has been extended by China until 2022. On this occasion, its president, Dominique Mallet, is accommodating the GIIN.
How would you describe yourself and Thermocoax in a few key words?
DM – I joined Thermocoax at the end of 2013 after a career within international industrial groups. At this time, just like numerous other companies in the sector, we were faced with the uncertainty of the global nuclear market. One or our objectives then was to maintain our expertise in technical products and major projects, while developing internationally. Thermocoax has a wealth of 260 employees spread over 4 production sites – one site of which is dedicated solely to nuclear in Normandy – and 2 product expertise centres. In these centres we undertake the development, design and industrialisation of new solutions. They are based on our flagship technology – the cable with mineral insulation – silicone heating products, the measuring system and signal transmission.
In 2016, our turnover reached € 40 m.
Apart from these products, that which sets us apart from our competitors is the creativity and flexibility that we associate with the robustness of operation of much larger scale businesses.
Historically, the first activities of the company Thermocoax concentrated on the nuclear industry. What were the first customers to put their trust in you?
DM – That’s true, nuclear has been in our DNA since the company was created in 1957. The company was then called Société Anonyme d’Etudes & Réalisations Nucléaires (Nuclear Design & Realisation). It is only since 1982 that the company has taken on the name Thermocoax. Our career in the nuclear industry really started with CEA in France and GE in the United States. We then worked a lot with Framatome then Areva and EDF, with which we have continued to maintain useful cooperation. And today, for heating elements for use in nuclear “pressurisers”, across all platforms we are the number one company in terms of installed equipment across the world.
Today, what is the distribution of your activities between nuclear, aeronautical and space?
DM – This distribution is split into three thirds: one third for nuclear, one for aerospace and one for premium industries. We are therefore not tributaries for the cycles of any particular sector. We have specific certifications for each of these sectors. Our strength is in our capacity to provide bespoke products rather than from a catalogue, which helps strengthen the sustainability of our company.
With regard to nuclear, we are working a lot on instrumentation systems, particularly to measure physical quantities in the reactor core, such as temperature, neutron flows or even measuring the water level…
You have been on the Chinese market for more than twenty years. Can you tell us a bit more about your success in the Middle Kingdom?
DM – The company was first brought in by Framatome on the Chinese market with Daya Bay in the eighties. Today, with the increasing autonomy of China, we have built and maintain a robust network with local players – the major electrical operators, engineering companies and EPC – which are increasingly becoming our direct contacts.
At the end of 2016, a new market opened for the supply of neutron measurements for the first ‘Hualong’ plants of the CGN group, on which we based our position in partnership with a local player. We didn’t win this since the Russian players were the awarded this project.
You recently announced that the nuclear safety administration of the People’s Republic of China has extended your HAF 604 certificate. Can you explain to us what this certificate consists of? What experience feedback can you give?
DM – The HAF 604 certification aims to recognise the contribution of foreign-owned companies. Its role is to validate and inspect a pool of suppliers capable of being present on Chinese projects. It’s an indispensable door-opener. But it is also a voluntary approach, because it is a certification that needs very detailed rationale, and, on the industrial level, we are also seeking to protect our know-how.
Obtaining this certification, and not only this, by the way, is a good strategy that is paying off for us today. Due to the capability of working on several construction codes, for example, our company supplies China and is lining up to India and the USA. That is not even to mention our participation in
the HPC programme in Britain.
The situation in Russia is different: the market, mature and very closed in terms of technology, is self-sufficient. Our approach on this market is solicitous and opportunistic.
You pointed out during the Bourget 2017 fair that Thermocoax was going to launch a recruitment campaign this year. Do these recruitments also concern your nuclear activities?
DM – Yes, the nuclear activities are also concerned. 40 people are joining the group this year. We are achieving a growth of + 30 % in orders overall. We still have difficulty recruiting for technical posts. We are seeking candidates for production, industrialisation and engineering.
To conclude, what is your vision of the nuclear sector in terms of service-providing companies? How do you think it is going to develop, particularly on the international level?
DM – The global nuclear market has moved to China today and will be in India tomorrow. Our entire sector, faced with this great opportunity, has the challenge to increase and assess our competitive advantages, to guarantee performance criteria remotely and to supply and to seek out local partnerships. At the national and European level, we need a favourable and dynamic ecosystem which includes the political level, to be able to make arrangements for new territories.
With regard to innovation within Thermocoax, we have signed up to the major players of the sector within a development phase: through partnerships with EDF, projects with the CEA and Areva. We are working on solutions for tomorrow’s nuclear safety. Finally, based on the good practices of EDF, we can change the specifications of other electricians for more reliability and safety. We are therefore completing K1 60 years certification for our primary coolant loop instruments.
About Thermocoax – NDLR –
Thermocoax is a medium-sized French company specialising in thermal solutions and sensors for harsh environments for the nuclear and aerospace industries. One of the company’s strengths is its expertise in the manufacture of cables resistant to a temperature of up to 2000°C. This technology has allowed unique solutions to be developed.
The company has two production sites in France, one site of which is entirely dedicated to nuclear and workshops in Germany and the United States. 70 % of the production is exported.