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New Centura® Prontotm 200mm ATM Epi Chamber Maximizes Thick Epitaxial Silicon Productivity

By Carlos Caballaro

Applied Materials will introduce a redesigned 200mm epi chamber during SEMICON China, March 14 – 16, in Shanghai. The new Applied Materials Centura® ProntoTM Atmospheric (ATM) Epi chamber is specifically designed to produce the industry’s highest-quality thick silicon films (20-150µm) needed for power, MEMS and other devices used in fast--growing mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

The single-wafer Pronto ATM chamber is for Applied’s 200mm and 150mm Centura systems (Figure 1), and offers high throughput, low cost of ownership and no compromise for on-wafer performance. It is designed to meet the growing demand for extremely uniform thick epitaxial Si with resistivity of less than 2%.

Figure 1. Exterior and interior views of the new Applied Materials Centura Pronto ATM Epi chamber. These are designed to produce the industry’s highest-quality, thick silicon films needed for power, MEMS and other devices.

The Pronto ATM chambers are a modernization of Applied’s standard 200mm Centura Epi chamber. Key hardware and software components have been upgraded based on Applied’s materials engineering expertise and market leadership in epitaxial deposition. They give the new Pronto ATM Epi chamber exceptional capabilities (see table 1), including:

  • growth of Si layers up to 150μm thick in a single pass 
  • >30% improvement in growth rate
  • typical film non-uniformity of <1.5%, both within-wafer and wafer-to-wafer
  • a shorter clean time versus standard chambers
  • multi-wafer processing capability between cleans for films <20μm
  • significantly lower consumable costs, an important driver of overall profitability once an epitaxy tool is fully depreciated.

Table 1. Applied's new Centura Pronto ATM Epi chamber satisfies all market requirements for thick epitaxy. (Data shown is for a three-chamber system running 100µm thick single films in a single pass.)

Key upgrades include:

Chamber Design Modifications: With new process kit geometries, the Centura Pronto ATM Epi chamber promotes 30% improved growth rates by more effectively containing trichlorosilane (TCS, a Si precursor) in the reaction space immediately above the wafer. This also means less TCS is needed, reducing operating costs.

Design changes to other components result in improved laminar gas flow for higher growth rates; improved uniformity of film growth and resistivity; and better chemical efficiency.

Motorized Susceptor Lift: In a chamber, a wafer rests in a pocket on a susceptor that rotates while precursor gas is introduced into the chamber for epitaxy. Exact wafer positioning is required to optimize uniformity of the epitaxial layer and ensure wafer-to-wafer repeatability.

Applied’s new Pronto ATM Epi chamber features a motorized susceptor lift. It can be more precisely controlled to prevent wafer movement than a conventional pneumatic lift (figure 2a). Also, a new susceptor-leveling mechanism enhances positioning repeatability (figure 2b).

Figure 2a. The Pronto ATM Epi chamber for thick Si epitaxy features a motorized susceptor lift which minimizes wafer movement within the susceptor slot.

Figure 2b. Exact wafer positioning achieved with the motorized lift produces less than 1% variation in film thickness between wafers.

Dome Temperature Closed-Loop Control: This new software-controlled capability improves both on-wafer performance and chamber productivity.

Maximize The Value of Older Tools

Applied’s new Centura Pronto ATM Epi chamber helps users meet the urgent need for increased production of power and MEMS devices built with thick Si technology. And by helping users maximize the value of their existing 150mm and 200mm Centura Epi tools, it’s also the latest tangible expression of Applied’s ongoing commitment to deliver enabling technologies to its customers. For further information contact Carlos_Caballero@amat.com.