Pressure instruments for semiconductor manufacturers
The global semiconductor industry’s significant growth in recent years is expected to continue through 2021 and beyond. Key contributing factors include the increase in the incorporation of microelectronics in electrical and electronic devices, artificial intelligence, IoT, and the expansion of Industry 4.0 initiatives. As these changes occur, semiconductor suppliers face the challenge of improving supply to meet demand—i.e., increasing transistor density, improving reliability, and, of course, reducing production and purchasing costs.
Ashcroft is ready and willing to help semiconductor manufacturers take on and overcome this challenge. Equipped with extensive industry-specific experience, we have the knowledge and skills to help develop, engineer, manufacture, and test the instruments and equipment necessary for high-quality semiconductor production.
We offer a variety of pressure measurement products—including transmitters with our proprietary ultra-stable CVD sensing technology—suitable for use in semiconductor manufacturing applications. The performance of our products are coupled with global safety approvals and a legacy of performance in the most critical semiconductor applications.
In semiconductor tools, the gas panel controls the flow of gas into the process chamber. Pressure transducers are installed inside of the gas panel on each of the gas sticks to monitor the pressure output of the pressure regulator. This position enables them to send signals that adjust system operation with greater precision, accuracy, and speed, resulting in better overall system function.
Some of the gases used in semiconductor applications are toxic, flammable, and otherwise dangerous to those handling them. These dangers necessitate ATEC and IECEx hazardous location approval for many products. Ashcroft and Nagano Keiki Co. Ltd. of Japan (our parent company) annually produce over 100,000 pressure transmitters and gauges designed and engineered for safe use in semiconductor industry applications.
Hydrogen is one of the most common carrier gases used in UHP gas delivery. Safely handling hydrogen requires the implementation of protective measures that mitigate the risk of fire or explosion. Preferred methods include ATEX/IECEx Intrinsic Safety and Non-Sparking Approvals. One critical factor to keep in mind is the effect of hydrogen embrittlement. The stability and repeatability of pressure transmitters and gauges rely on their measuring mechanisms (directly tied to the metallurgy and their resistance to embrittlement). Ashcroft high-purity transmitters and gauges utilize high-purity austenitic 316L stainless steel, which has been shown to mitigate the effects of hydrogen embrittlement.
The amount of pressure needed to prevent contaminants from infiltrating cleanrooms and other clean spaces is highly specific. Too little pressure results in unwanted particles entering the area, while too much pressure causes excessive air movement and wasted energy. Pressure transducers and gauges integrated into the air handling equipment must be extremely sensitive, accurate, and reliable.
Importance of Pressure Measurement in Semiconductor Manufacturing
Today, semiconductor manufacturing operations rely on the precise and accurate delivery of ultra-high purity (UHP) gases, which require purity levels to exceed 99.9995% and stringent control over stray particles and moisture. Given the importance of UHP gas supply systems, the measurement and control technologies utilized for their distribution must offer high-precision, high-accuracy performance while maintaining absolute cleanliness inside the system. Construction materials must remain inert when in contact with the UHP gases, minimize the risk of trapped (dead) volume, and prevent particle shedding and entrapment.
While essential to the manufacture of modern semiconductors, the toxicity and flammability of UHP gases pose significant risks to the health and well-being of those handling them. For this reason, some devices used in semiconductor operations are required to comply with leak integrity and hazardous location specifications and standards (e.g., ATEX and IECEx) to assure user safety.
Ashcroft Pressure Instruments for Semiconductor Manufacturing
ZT High-Purity Transmitters and HPX High Purity Pressure Gauges
Our ZT/ZX pressure transmitters and HPX pressure gauges are specially designed for use in semiconductor applications. These products feature electropolished 316L stainless steel wetted parts and VCR-compatible, modular and weld tube fittings with minimal dead volumes. They have compact designs that accommodate higher density mounting configurations inside gas boxes and gas delivery systems. The ZX11 includes ATEC and IECEx hazardous location approvals.
Low Differential Pressure Transmitters and Transducers for Clean Rooms and Clean Spaces
Many of our differential pressure transducers—including DXLdp, CXLdp, AXLdp, and GC30— are integrated with Si-GlasⓇ technology, which helps them accommodate the highly critical monitoring and control needs of ultra-low differential pressure applications. Pressure ranges as low as 0.05 in H2O (12.5 Pa) allow for the tightest control at incredibly low pressures.
Our 1130 Series gauges are designed for incorporation into glove boxes, wafer handling equipment, and wall panels with differential pressure ranges as low as 0.6 in H2O (150 Pa).
Ashcroft Si-Glas Sensor Technology
Why Partner With Ashcroft?
Customers who partner with us for their semiconductor needs benefit from our:
We solve the critical demands in the semiconductor market with unmatched product performance, a broad range of capabilities, and experience that you can trust. We understand the industry because we are part of the industry. Our sensor manufacturing facility in Japan includes manufacturing processes (e.g., lithography, etching, and thin film deposition) and has Class 10 and 100 manufacturing and packaging areas.
Commitment to Quality & Flexibility
Understanding applications that require the highest purity and cleanliness is not optional, it is a part of our DNA. Our extensive experience with sensor technology makes a difference in why our products perform so well. Our designs are always flexible as we understand we are a solution only if we fit. We have made investments in extensive production capacity to rapidly ramp up for the most aggressive time schedules and production forecasts.
At Ashcroft, we are here to help you identify the right pressure instrument for your semiconductor needs. Whether you require gauges, transducers, or transmitters for a standard or cleanroom manufacturing environment, we’ll find the perfect product solution. Trust us with the success and safety of your project.
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