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The Fluid Systems Engineering and Management Blog

by Swagelok Northern California

Swagelok ALD Valves for Chip Makers on Display at SEMICON West

by Jeff Hopkins, on 6/12/13 8:00 AM

As chips get ever smaller, manufacturers need consistency in ALD valves; see Swagelok's ALD valve at booth #1431

swagelok ald valve
Executives from Swagelok Company fly out quarterly from Ohio to discuss technology with semiconductor equipment manufacturers. Some of the ideas for our next generation valves have come out of these meetings. Download ALD valves catalog and technical report »

It takes precision manufacturing to create a valve that takes only 10 milliseconds to open and close, works in temperatures up to 200 degrees Celsius, and in the right conditions is ready to go for 100 million cycles. That's Swagelok's ALD valve, which you can see at our booth #1431 at SEMICON West in San Francisco, July 9 through 11.

ALD stands for atomic layer deposition. The valve opens to let a fine dose of reactive gas such as hafnium tetrachloride to sit briefly on the surface of the silicon wafer, then purge it, properly preparing the wafer to be etched. By "briefly," we're talking about only a few milliseconds.

Chip makers need consistency

Swagelok was first to market with the first valve specifically designed for atomic layer deposition. That was more than a decade ago, and other valve manufacturers are still trying to catch up.

As chips get smaller and smaller, aspect ratios and tolerances are ever more critical. Chip manufacturers need ALD valves that are highly consistent so that they know they will get the same performance every time they put a new ALD valve in their equipment.

Collaboration is key

The ALD valve you will see at SEMICON West has been refined since our original models. Executives from Swagelok Company fly out quarterly from Ohio to discuss technology with semiconductor equipment manufacturers and plan for the next round of innovations. Quarterly interaction with those involved in the future of semiconductor manufacturing technology is critical as we strive to challenge conventional wisdom to create new value for our customers and execute on one of our core values: Innovation

DH series 

Today, an increasing number of applications require high precursor temperatures with very tight temperature controls. System designers now have a need for an oven enclosure for the entire gas system to precisely control these high temperatures. This demands a valve that can be entirely situated within the high temperature environment, including the body and actuator. With input from semiconductor equipment manufacturers, Swagelok has developed the DH Series Thermal-Immersion Diaphragm Valve with high speed actuation (ALD like) for high temperature processes including ALD and precursor delivery. The DH Series can operate at 220C in full immersion, whereas the ALD valve is designed so that just the body is subject to high temperatures. The trade-off is that the DH Series has a shorter (but robust) life span of about 20 million cycles rather than the ALD's potential 100 million cycles.

Started by Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International back in 1971, SEMICON West is the flagship annual event for the global microelectronics industry. Look for us at Booth #1431.  

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Your fluid systems can't fail—and they can't leak. That's why Swagelok Northern California offers mission critical solutions for the petrochem, semi, power, and oil and gas industries around the Bay Area and into NW Nevada. We manufacture and assemble reliable, customizable components that get the job done. Contact our team today to learn about custom solutions for your plant or refinery.

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