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The etch process removes selected areas from the surface of the wafer so that other materials may be deposited.
“Dry” (plasma) etching is used for circuit-defining steps; “wet” etching (using chemical baths) is used mainly to clean wafers. Applied also offers an innovative “dry” removal process that selectively removes layers without using plasma. Typically, part of the wafer is protected during the etch by an etch-resistant "masking" material, such as photoresist or a hard mask such as silicon nitride.
Etch processes are referred to as dielectric etch or conductor etch to indicate the types of films that are removed from the wafer. Applied Materials’ etch innovations consistently meet increasingly challenging requirements of successive inflections (e.g., 3D NAND, EUV patterning, and FOWLP).