News Article

Contamination Management Solutions From Pfeiffer Vacuum


Pfeiffer Vacuum’s many years of experience as a provider of vacuum technology have shaped our know-how and understanding of the processes, equipment and environment of production systems. Based on this knowledge, we have developed solutions to identify and minimize contamination and increase the yield at each step of the process.

Solutions for contamination management from Pfeiffer Vacuum improve the yield in the individual process steps of sensitive devices production. Innovative solutions from Pfeiffer Vacuum In-order-to-ensure the quality and a high yield in production, knowledge about the contaminants in the packaging of devices and their direct environment is important.

In the semiconductor industry, continuous analysis within the process cycle is possible with the APA 302. The fully automated process of the ADPC 302 localizes and counts particles on the inner surfaces of transportation carriers. The APR 4300 even goes a step further. The AMPC is the ideal solution for clean room and equipment front end modules monitoring (EFEM).

Φ APA 302 - Pod Analyzer
The APA 302 is a unique in-line monitoring tool for advanced chip manufacturing in a clean room environment. This innovative equipment measures the airborne molecular contamination (AMC) in a FOUP and in the surrounding environment. The measurement occurs in real-time with a high sensitivity in the ppbv-range.

Φ ADPC 302 - Dry Particle Counter
The ADPC 302 is a unique in-process contamination management system for particle contamination monitoring in the semiconductor industry.

Efficient particle monitoring

The ADPC 302 measures the number of particles in wafer transport carriers (Front Opening Unified Pod, FOUP, and Front Opening Shipping Box, FOSB). The fully automated patented process localizes and counts particles from the carrier surfaces, including the door. Qualified by leading fabs, this system can be used for both the serial production as well as R&D analysis. The main applications are the carrier characterization, cleaning strategy optimization and cleaning quality check.


The dry process (Dry Particle Counter) of the ADPC shows clear benefits compared to the traditional wet method (Liquid Particle Counter). The main advantage of the dry process is that the particle measurement is completely automated. It is integrated in the production process and therefore does not require time outside the production period. The fully automated measurement process does not require an additional operator. The test time is only seven minutes, meaning that the ADPC 302 is four times as fast as traditional systems. It is possible to test eight transport boxes in one hour.

Φ APR 4300 - Pod Regenerator
The APR is a system for the decontamination of wafers and the protection during queue time. Airborne Molecular Contamination (AMC) lowers the yield and quality in the semiconductor production. The APR effectively prevents the adsorption of contaminated organic or inorganic molecules on the surface of a wafer and the transport box. Through the evacuation of chambers in the APR, the adsorption probability is reduced dramatically. The yield of a fab can be increased significantly in this way and the queue times between the individual process steps can be optimized.

Φ AMPC - Ambient Multi Port Controlling
Airborne molecular contamination (AMC) in IC fabs is known as the major factor of yield loss. To control and understand where contamination comes from, Pfeiffer Vacuum offers a unique solution to the semiconductor market to monitor clean rooms as well as EFEM (Equipment Front End Module).

Customer benefits
Φ Real-time compound measurement (acids, bases, organic compounds)
Φ Innovative software to manage sampling lines priority, quality check (QC) and alarms
Φ 96 samplings lines gathered onto one tool (up to eight analyzers)
Φ High throughput (analyzing and cleaning within three minutes)
Φ No cross-contamination from one sampling line to another
Φ Systems for contamination management are our newest developments specifically, for the semiconductor and pharmaceutical industry.

How does contamination occur?
In the semiconductor industry, wafers emit reaction by-products during transport and waiting times. Moisture and molecular contaminants borne by air currents (Airborne Molecular Contamination, in short AMC), such as hydrogen fluoride (HF) react in the tight interstices of the transport boxes (pod systems) with oxidants from the ambient air (H2O and O2). During these reactions, undesired crystal growth on structured wafers is triggered which leads to a decline in quality and a decreased production yield.

Sub-micrometer particles can cause defects that may lead to considerable yield loss. Even the smallest particles measuring 0.1 µm may damage the structure of semiconductor chips.

The APR 4300 decontaminates 300 mm wafers and their transport boxes (FOUPs) on a molecular level and protects them during queue time. Reliable decontamination and protection from contamination.

How does APR work?
The FOUP can be delivered either manually or through overhead hoist transportation (OHT) on the two load ports. The APR is a system with four stacked vacuum chambers for the decontamination of wafers and FOUPs, which is served from a reliable robot. All chambers are equipped with a vacuum pumping station, a gas box, an operating panel and a control with power supply. The chambers can be operated individually. After loading the chamber with a FOUP containing wafers, the pressure in the chamber is reduced to 0.1 mbar. Then the decontamination process is applied. After this, the chamber is purged with clean nitrogen and returned to atmospheric pressure. The wafers and the transport box are now protected from contamination for more than one day.

The AMPC is the ideal solution for clean room and equipment front end modules monitoring (EFEM).

The AMPC gathers the most advanced analyzers to detect and quantify acids, bases and organic compounds in up to 96 locations in a fab due to an innovative and integrated valves design. AMPC range includes two tools: AMPC S and AMPC L where external dimensions, number of lines and options are different. Additionally, the AMPC Extension Frame provides 39 U of space for extra analyzers. It can be used for upgrades of existing AMPC units or added to new AMPC S and AMPC L units.

Data management and fab communication
The tool software allows the end users to set various alarms when the levels of contamination exceed defined thresholds. All measurement results and tool parameters are stored in a database that can be transmitted to fabs' communication protocols to provide customers with a real-time picture of the fab's contamination levels. The customer is also able to remotely access the tool to modify tool parameters if necessary.