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Posted: July 30, 2008

STS and XACTIX Launch a New XeF2 Etch System for MEMS Release in Volume Production

(Nanowerk News) Surface Technology Systems and XACTIX announced the immediate availability of a new Chemical Vapor Etch (CVE) module for xenon difluoride (XeF2) gas. XACTIX and STS have cooperated to create a breakthrough chamber design and improved wafer handling to ensure the high throughput, uniformity, efficiency and uptime required to make XeF2 a viable process for high volume production.
XeF2 is a fast isotropic etchant of silicon, without plasma excitation, and has a high selectivity for silicon compared with a vast array of other materials commonly used in CMOS and other semiconductor applications. One of the main applications of XeF2 etching is the release of MEMS structures using a sacrificial silicon release layer. As a dry process, XeF2 etching eliminates device damage caused by agitation or stiction, often associated with wet etching. Together with low or non-existent attack on other semiconductor materials, the process results in increased yield, lower fabrication costs and higher performance devices.
David Springer, President of XACTIX explained, "Previously, in order to improve cross-wafer uniformity it was necessary to lower gas pressures and flows, or introduce a carrier gas. Lower gas pressures and flows reduce etch rates and throughput, while carrier gasses reduce efficiency and significantly increase operating costs. This new chamber design encapsulates the wafer in a smaller, symmetrical chamber which results in a very uniform and highly concentrated flow of gas over the wafer."
Eizo Yasui, CEO of STS stated, "By combining the expertise of both companies, we have succeeded in developing a unique XeF2 process tool which offers customers significant competitive advantages for volume production applications. Our CVE module has been through extensive testing, and the first order for a three module cluster tool has been received and will be shipped this summer."
About XACTIX, Inc.
XACTIX designs and manufactures etchers which use xenon difluoride gas to isotropically etch silicon, molybnium and germanium. This dry, gas phase etch provides high selectivity, high etch rates and long undercuts while providing high selectivity over the majority of semiconductor materials. While primarily used as a MEMS release etch, XACTIX also serves a number of emerging applications in the wider semiconductor industry. XACTIX is the overwhelming market leader for xenon difluoride etch systems serving both R&D and production applications. It serves markets worldwide through its own distribution network and with partner companies such as STS. For more information please see http://www.xactix.com
About Surface Technology Systems plc
STS designs and manufactures a range of highly specialized systems incorporating innovative technology used in the production of semiconductors and related devices and is a leader in plasma based etch and deposition technologies. STS serves a range of applications within the telecommunications, data storage, advanced packaging, MEMS and nanotechnology markets.
STS is the market leader in deep silicon etching for the growing MEMS market, offering patent-protected technology. In addition, STS has a strong presence in each of its other served markets and distributes its process solutions worldwide through an experienced sales and service operation. The Group currently markets in over 30 countries and has an installed base of over 1000 systems. For more information about STS please see http://www.stsystems.com
Source: Surface Technology Systems
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