Coolant Management: Unique Teflon® hose helps chip makers keep cool
by Jeff Hopkins, on 4/17/13 7:00 AM
New microchip production processes demand better hoses - and Swagelok Northern California has them
Swagelok W Series PTFE hose can pass the test. Download two product test reports on surface temperature and insulation. Product test reports »
One crucial part of making microchips is the ability to accurately control the temperature of semiconductor tools. To do that, fluids are delivered via hoses to either heat or cool the space around the tool chamber. A stable process chamber means a stable chip yield, so hoses are a critical piece of the puzzle.
For a long time, the primary heating and cooling media were ethylene glycol and deionized water. Chip design is always improving, however, and new processes are demanding higher temperatures. Now chip manufacturers prefer to use dielectric media. That brings a whole new set of challenges. Some chip fabs in Europe even had to shut down when the new high temperatures caused the old hoses to smoke.
A hose has to satisfy a chip manufacturer on many levels at once: safety, performance, cleanliness and temperature capability range. If the exterior of the hose gets too hot, that's a safety issue. If the hose surface gets too cold and water starts condensing on it, water could drip on to some other important piece of equipment. A hose that doesn't insulate well also drains away profits, because the company has to use bigger chillers and heat exchangers to make up for the temperature fluctuations in the hose.
In addition, dielectric media is hydrophilic, which means it seeks out moisture. Even in a cleanroom, human beings add moisture to the air simply by breathing. So the hose must not let moisture in.
One of our customers was establishing a new platform for transferring dielectric media using fluids sold under the trade names Galden and Fluorinert. It was a big change for the company because they were upgrading to chambers twice the size they had been using. The new platform had to meet industry and OSHA requirements, and keep the fluids within a couple of degrees of specification for production. The new system also had to incorporate legacy dripless quick-connect parts.
Swagelok W series PTFE hose
We had the answer: Swagelok W series PTFE hose. In addition to meeting all the insulation criteria, it uses a carbon-impregnated PTFE core, conveying any potential electro-static charges to ground thus preventing potential arcing. The PTFE core in Swagelok W series PTFE hose also means these dielectric fluids will be conveyed contamination-free without concern for aging.
It's a five-layer hose with lots of mechanical strength. That means it will not kink when it is properly suspended from the floor to the chiller. For this application, a sixth layer (called Fire Jacket) was added for additional insulation. A Fire Jacket cover is available as an option on many Swagelok hoses. It acts as a secondary barrier to moisture, temperature extremes and particulates.
3/4 inch i.d.(inside diameter) W series hose also offers superior flow rates versus conventional 3/4” hose. Typical 3/4” hose has an inside diameter of 5/8 inch. W series hose is a 'full' 3/4" i.d.! It also offers significant routing advantages. Its o.d. (outside diameter) is significantly smaller than typical hoses: The o.d. of 3/4” W series hose is 1.375 inch while conventional hose can be 3+ inches. That becomes very important on a four-chamber tool, with separate supply and return hoses connected to each etching tool. That's eight hoses feeding through a bulkhead.
Product test report
To show what W series hose could do, we set up a special test. We hooked up several W series hoses to a heat exchanger, and then put thermocouples on the skin of the hoses. We charted the temperature and overlaid that line with the temperature of the fluid inside the hoses. The two lines showed how the hoses were able to insulate well and prevent heat loss. We also were able to incorporate the legacy quick-disconnect fittings, so the new designs will work on legacy systems. Product test reports »
W series hose not only passed the test, but showed that it could handle even greater temperature ranges. As production processes get more demanding, the W series hose will be able to handle it.
W series also gives customers economies of scale. They can also use it for plasma etch, chemical vapor depostion, physical vapor deposition, as well as thin film processes. Swagelok W series hose can serve 90 percent of their tool applications.
Check out Swagelok W series hose for yourself to see all the technical advantages it can provide and then contact us if you would like to discuss your hose application. We also have a whole catalog of hose solutions ready to go to work. You can download it now.
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