ReVera is a leading provider of next-generation metrology used to monitor and control films and critical layers deployed in the semiconductor manufacturing process. ReVera has developed a unique process for measuring semiconductor-device thin films and layers. As semiconductor features become smaller and smaller, optical measurement and inspection techniques become less reliable. To address that problem, ReVera created VeraFlex II, a High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) Production Metrology system.
ReVera’s unique system called for several unusual approaches to mechanical systems, electronic design, and control — and of course, complex firmware and software. ReVera initially approached Trust Automation to supply a control system, and later requested a complete, ultra-high-vacuum, robotic wafer-handling system for this specialized tool.
Initially, our Trust Automation team worked with ReVera to modify an existing system platform. The primary design goal was to optimize the use of available space to accommodate our new, custom-designed unit consisting of:
- An eight axes control system
- An integrated controller
- Eight axes of linear amplifier
- An integrated system, and
- Motor power
A secondary design goal was to ease the huge cable-handling challenges. The system we designed uses a standard and familiar chassis approach with the following features:
- A common backplane in a 6U chassis
- Motor amplifiers that are all removable from the front-facing portion of the chassis, with cable connections that all occur at the rear of the system. This arrangement allows the amplifiers, power, and system controller to be accessed and replaced without any wiring changes or extra work. The result is a very short mean time to repair that minimizes the chance for cable errors in an extremely complex system.
- Dual 48V system power supplies for system operation
- Dual linear 48V supplies for motor power, and
- A field-replaceable fan tray for amplifier cooling
After working with the customer for more than a year on system control, they approached us for our mechanical system design expertise. We looked at an existing high-vacuum robot and were asked to make improvements that would yield a more easily producible system and thereby ease their production requirements.
The situation called for new solutions for the following reasons: The original system was delivered untested and the staff needed to install each system in a tool and bring it up, qualify it, and test it at the their facility. If a problem surfaced, the customer’s engineers had to contend with logistical issues related to replacement, testing, and validation. The engineers often needed to troubleshoot problems to determine whether the causes were mechanical, electrical, or software-related.
Working very closely with the customers engineering team, our mechanical, electrical, and software engineers designed and developed an ultra-high-vacuum robot that solved all of the shortcomings of the original system. This robot operates in vacuum up to 10-9 Torr. Prior to shipment to the customer, we test each robot in a high vacuum in our ISO 7/Class 10,000 clean room, under conditions very similar to the actual system operation.
In addition to the in-vacuum wafer handler, we also designed and delivered an out-of-vacuum stage for the VeraFlex II system. This XYZ stage has the capability of driving to a very precise commanded position. Amplifiers contained in the TA1041, 6U motion-control system drive this stage as well as the high-vacuum robot.
Today, when a system arrives, our customer’s engineering and manufacturing team can install it quickly and then get to work on the integration of the overall system, without having to worry about whether the critical robot wafer handler will meet specifications.
The complete A-to-Z design, manufacturing, and qualification approach we take at Trust Automation has enabled them to streamline its manufacturing process considerably, saving substantial time and money.
Using this experience, Trust Automation is able to offer a fully customizable 300mm Ultra High Vacuum Robot.
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