In-Situ Real-Time Metrology for Semiconductor Process Control Released

Atonarp, a leader in in-situ, real-time high-sensitivity metrology for semiconductor process control, has announced the worldwide release of its Aston platform. This marks an important milestone in the Company’s transition to a commercial organization on a worldwide scale.

Aston is a compact mass spectrometer that provides accurate, real-time data on the process chemistry with sensitivity to measure the molecular concentrations down-to parts per billion. This data enables semiconductor manufacturing FABs to run more efficiently, thus increasing the yield and throughput, delivering dramatic financial benefits to FAB operators.

Atonarp has commenced shipping production orders of Aston Impact to leading semiconductor FABs and equipment manufacturers in Korea and the USA. It is also shipping dozens of Aston units for clients’ evaluations in their advanced processes to optimize their process and manufacturing efficiencies.

“The ability to rapidly detect, quantify and provide actionable process control data at a molecular level is a real game changer in advanced semiconductor manufacturing processes,” said Martin Mason, VP of Product Marketing at Atonarp. “Even a one percent increase in throughput can add up to tens of millions of dollars a year in production for a typical FAB. Aston is seeing significant traction where speed with sensitivity matter to molecular level process control efficiency.”

Metrology is a vital part of semiconductor manufacturing. The concentration of multiple gases is measured within production equipment to ensure process margins are met while minimizing waste. Previous solutions have relied on optical emission spectroscopy and residual gas analyzers, but these legacy methods cannot provide the speed and sensitivity required for today’s advanced memory and logic processes. Instead, Aston uses innovative mass spectroscopy technology, with a best-in-class sensor, to provide fast results with excellent sensitivity, as well as the robustness needed to resist corrosive gases and condensates.

Aston provides actionable data for advanced semiconductor applications such as atomic level deposition (ALD) and sub-fab operations. At less than nine parts per billion square root of Hertz (9ppb√Hz), Aston offers up to ten times better sensitivity than competitors’ solutions, without compromising on the speed at which data can be gathered.

“Retrofitting Aston to an existing production process tool can deliver greater throughput within just six to eight weeks, compared to up to a year when installing new production equipment,” said said Prakash Murthy, CEO, CTO, and founder of Atonarp. “This will materially help manufacturers increase their production levels and help to address the current shortage of semiconductor fab capacity.”

Rapid, actionable endpoint detection (EPD) is the most efficient way to run a semiconductor tool and fab. Until now, EPD could not be deployed in many process steps because the required in-situ sensor would not survive the harsh process or chamber cleaning chemicals, or would alternatively suffer clogging from condensate deposits. Historically, fabs were forced to use a fixed time in order to ensure that a process was complete. Conversely, Aston optimizes production by detecting exactly when a process has finished, including chamber cleaning, which can reduce the required clean-time by up to 80%.

Aston is resistant to corrosive gases and gaseous contaminant condensates. It is more robust than existing solutions, featuring independent dual ionization sources – a classic electron impact ionization source and a filament-less plasma ionizer – that work reliably in the harsh conditions encountered in semiconductor production. This enables Aston to be used in-situ, in demanding environments where traditional electron ionizers would corrode and fail very rapidly.

Atonarp is actively engaged in partnerships to develop the Aston platform for new applications within the semiconductor space as well as for applications where real-time, sensitive gas analysis is needed, such as Oil & Gas and lyophilization process control.

Aston has achieved multiple certifications and qualifications, EN55032 (EU), EN 55035 (EU), FCC part 15 (US), ICES-003 (Canada), VCCI CISPR-32 (Japan), BSMI (Taiwan), KC EMC (Korea) for EMI/EMC compliance.

For more information: https://www.atonarp.com

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