The Austrian-based SEZ Group has opened a 3,000 square foot 300mm applications lab in Phoenix, AZ, to help its customers establish production-viable wafer cleaning and wet etch processes. At the root of SEZ's capabilities is its single-wafer multiple-zone tools that enable very tight control of sequential conventional wet cleaning and etching chemistries. SEZ has also developed an impressive array of front and backside automated wafer handling subsystems, including the ability to handle chemically thinned wafers (e.g., 70micron-thick 300mm wafers).
While the new lab's focus is customer support for production processes (not R&D), during opening day tours SEZ technologists briefly described their work on a wet-etch-based CMP alternative that may be possible in the near future, if current copper electroplating development work continues to provide flatter films.
Speaking at the lab's dedication, Jim Feldhan, president the market research firm Semico Research, said, "This is the exact right time for suppliers to be preparing for the ramp of 300mm production equipment." Feldhan foresees 300mm fabs facilities taking off again, as the substrate of choice for 130nm technology. He anticipates that 300mm will reach parity with 200mm in 2006, at which time 99% of 130nm technology will be fabricated on 300mm wafers.-P.B.