Tag Archives: Gas line heaters

High-end thermal solutions for wafer processing operations

In the semiconductor sector, machine-manufacturers at different stages of the wafer manufacturing process are looking for high-performing heating solutions that meet cutting-edge specifications in terms of design, uniformity, repeatability and lifetime but that are also able to withstand very corrosive environments under ultra-high vacuum and with ambient temperatures above 100°C.

THERMOCOAX’s expertise is in responding to strict specifications and in designing tailor-made high-performing thermal solutions from mineral insulated cables.

Our engineering know-how, our prototyping capacity and our knowledge of mineral insulated cables allow us to offer unique solutions to our customers.

We are also able to develop complex mechanical parts that incorporate our heating elements.

Our strength is that we master all these processes internally with a factory certified “Copy exact” dedicated to SEMICON applications for wafer manufacturing processes: high precision machining, welding, soldering, tests and qualifications, control, ….

Over the last few months, THERMOCOAX has developed an innovative, reliable and efficient solution to heat a system inside a vacuum chamber.

The challenge of this project was combining two thermal systems that had to be integrated into the customer’s final system, in an ultra-high vacuum and corrosive environment at high temperature.

The first thermal system that we had to develop was a kind of heating element coiled on a mandrel

The solution was complex because we had to meet critical specifications such as:
• The limitations and dimensional tolerances of the heater
• Critical operating temperature of 800°C
• Achieving a 10% power distribution uniformity – Several heating areas have been designed with different power densities
• Operational guarantee > 5 years, in ultra-high vacuum with a corrosive environment

We designed 6 different concepts and compared these solutions in order to select one.

THERMOCOAX chose a design with EC wound / brazed on a metal support which was mass-produced in line with a specific process.

Progress achieved – results achieved – originality of the chosen solution

This design, which at first glance looks like a heating cartridge, is innovative in its design because it has a fully wound heating element integrated in a mandrel by a process developed by THERMOCOAX.

The expected performances and lifetime results were validated during the qualification phase of the prototypes.

This all-encompassing design by THERMOCOAX targets many areas, with its performance advantages, its low cost design and its long lifetime performance.

The second thermal system is a complex assembly of a 3D design metal part with high temperature heating elements

Problems to solve

Being able to assemble complex metallics with a demanding dimensional specification and an operating temperature that can reach up to 800-900°C.

This temperature is near critical, especially when specifying a lifetime greater than 5 years.

We had to resolve the problem of complex machining.

It was also necessary to take the deformations caused by the machining into account, as well as the deformation from the welding and brazing processes.

The design and manufacturing method was developed entirely by THERMOCOAX to achieve a feasible design suitable for high volume manufacturing and minimizing the risk of non-compliance with dimensional or functional specifications.

We worked on raw material (304L) and evaluated and selected the material that was the most cost / quality / time effective.
For the metallic parts we evaluated: Full mass / forged / foundry material.

The other challenge with these pieces was treating them on the surface so that the highly corrosive liquid in the vacuum chamber would not stick to them.

After much research and testing we identified a substance that has very good anti-wetting properties and could be used for this type of application.

Work has also been done to validate the most suitable deposition process (PVD or CVD).
We finally selected the best deposit solution that operates in up to 600°C.

 

THERMOCOAX ISOPAD Gas line heating Jackets

Gas line heating jackets for high purity gas delivery systems

 

silicone Jacket
Gas line heater

THERMOCOAX is involved in many levels of the wafer manufacturing processes working with OEM all around the world.

We provide thermal solutions for applications such as lithography, deposition, etching, ion implantation, or annealing.

While developing our business in the ALD deposition processes, we understood the need of our customers to heat the high purity gas delivery systems from the ampoule to the deposition chambers.

Temperature control is extremely important in the deposition process.

This is why industrials need to have a high performance gas delivery system in terms of management of the gas flow rate and temperatures.

Transfer line heating jackets are used for both solid and liquid precursor management in semiconductor deposition processes.

The heating temperature requested is in the range of 80°C to120°C. Typically, the range of thermal solutions is provided by our German subsidiary ISOPAD, specifalist in the development and manufacture of customized silicon heating solutions.

The main concern of our customers was the need to keep the temperature uniform all the way from the gas generation ampoule to the deposition chamber. This complex way includes straight tubes, Tees, elbows (2P,3P), VCR, valves, manifolds and complex components.

Each delivery system is specific to the customer process.

That  was the challenge for THERMOCOAX ISOPAD.

Another limitation of this application is the use of jackets that must be installed, positioned as easily as possible in an environment with limited space.

ISOPAD has a lot of experience in high performance silicon jackets.

The silicone jacket is a well-known product for our company, all the expertise we have gained from working with our other OEM customers have been used to design and construct a high volume production solution.

All core competencies are in house, only the raw materials are bought in.

Many years ago, we developed filter heating jackets for the biotechnology industries, built with seamless silcone rubber that does not need affixing.

 

Isopad Silicone Jacket
Silicone Jacket

These jackets have a real advantage on the market because of the flexibility they provide  in terms of positioning and ease of cleaning.

The one-piece molded design is formed out of a two-component silicone rubber compound that fits around the filter housings without any affixing methods that may  not be compliant for use in those production processes.

 

The target for THERMOCOAX ISOPAD to adapt this solution to the SEMICON applications was:

  • to adapt this technology to smaller diameters, and to complex shapes.
  • To achieve the customer specifications on uniformity over the full line assembly
  • To find good materials for clean-room use and respond to the SEMICONDUCTOR requirements in term of low contamination properties.

Due to our expertise, we quickly managed to design and prototype a full line assembly responding to our customers’ demanding specifications.

 

The advantages of our solution:

These heating jackets provide an innovative design on the market with short delivery time.

Built with seamlessly-molded silicone rubber, these jackets offer a better thermal performance due to a close-fitting design and a high uniformity over the complete line.

With a product that has demonstrated a longer service life than existing solutions, we can deal with any installations of new deposition systems, but also spare parts for installed systems.

Applications that addresses our offer:

PeCVD, PVD, ALD, Epitaxy, ETCH, Wafer packaging, cleaning chamber processes etc.

 

THERMOCOAX KEY DIFFERENTIATION FACTORS:

 Technical Performance

. Custom-built line assembly

. Seamlesly-molded silicone

. Close-fitting design

. Better thermal performance, heat 68°F (20°C) up to 275°F (135°C)

. Reduced installation faults

. Lower overall risk of production downtimes

. Longer service life

. Easy to install & remove

. Outgassing according NASA standards

 

THERMOCOAX is a certified for Copy Exact:

 Specifications

  • Thermal gas flow uniformity: ± 5°C in the complete line assembly
  • Better thermal performance, heat 68°F (20°C) up to 275°F (135°C)

(minimum 1 meter of length)

  • Reduces installation faults
  • Lower overall risk of production downtimes

 

  • Jacket: silicone rubber, seamlessly molded, easy to clean, IP68 standard
  • Minimum gas line diameter: ¼ inch OD
  • Affixing technology: ” snap-on ” design by molding, easy to install and remove
  • temperature:   200 °C
  • UL-V0 standard, FDA-approved ultra-low emission material

 

Heater design to fit standard components used in weldments

  • Straight tube
  • Elbows (2p, 3p)
  • Tee
  • VCR fitting, etc.
  • Specially-formed and customised heaters for valves, manifolds and complex components

This high purity gas line heater development has been combined with the development of ampoule and canister heaters which are used in all deposition processes and with RF thermocouples used in the plasma environment to control the temperature in the deposition chamber.


Ampoule heater

THERMOCOAX meets the requirements of the SEMICON market in terms of repeatability, temperature uniformity, production control, quality monitoring, and COPY EXACT high volume manufacturing.

For high volume manufacturing, THERMOCOAX works with a continuous improvement strategy for:

  • Design
  • Manufacturing process
  • Cost reduction

 

THERMOCOAX is highly adaptable to specific customer requests