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Advanced Liquid Vaporizer System (FALVS®)

Fujikin’s Advanced Liquid Vaporizer System “FALVS®” (Seven developers of the product and technology development department are awarded the 2017 7th Monodzukuri Nippon Grand Award by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry) is the world’s first system developed for semiconductor production to form a fixed amount of thin films on silicon wafers with precise control of pressure fluctuation, and can immediately vaporize liquid metal-organics without using carrier gases such as helium (further referred to as He). Compared to the conventional methods of dilution by carrier gases, productivity is greatly improved (100% concentration with a large flow supply, operating costs reduced, process time shortened, system downsizing), and contributes to the future production of semiconductors with large calibration for wafers and circuit integration, etc.

1. Details and features of the product

Digital video image quality is being enhanced with 4K and 8K televisions, and audio quality is also enhanced with high resolution players. These leave a strong impression on everyday life and is the accomplishment of semiconductor device innovation (circuit integration). Those semiconductor devices are produced by etching subtle details on many layers of thin films such as metal and are applied to silicon circuit boards. The FALVS® contributes to the improvement of (deposition and etching processes) which are key processes that are essential.

The FALVS® was developed as a system to efficiently vaporize metal-organics in chemical vapor deposition (CVD) equipment for the semiconductor manufacturing process. Please refer to diagram 1 which compares the conventional method with the new method. In the conventional method, liquid MO was bubbled and vaporized with a carrier gas and supplied to the process chamber by heat insulated piping.

Diagram 1. Comparison of the conventional method and new method (FALVS®)

FALVS® is a new method of supplying liquid metal-organics by directly heating and vaporizing them. It is a system that does not require expensive carrier gases such as helium and heat retention of piping system, which saves resources and conserves energy. Immediately following the commencement of sales in 2014, it received a favorable reputation and more than 1500 units have already been shipped.

Diagram 2 shows the external and cross sectional structure view of the FALVS®. Fujikin combines the flow control unit unique technology with the newly developed compact vaporizer. We established structural design technology for the stable vaporization of pressure-fed metal-organics, component technology for pressure monitor sensors and control valves, and the comprehensive control technology. At the same time, as a control technology corresponding to high-temperature gas from the vaporization part, we have established Fujikin’s high-precision pressure-controlled flow control technology (FCS®-P technology), which is a unique technology. The FALVS® was completed with a combination of this vaporizer and control technology.

Diagram 2. External and cross sectional structure view of the FALVS®

The FALVS® is a metal-organic gas supply unit that can be installed close to the CVD film forming equipment. Primarily, it is configured to efficiently vaporize liquid metal-organics and also control the flow of the vaporized metal-organics gas with high precision. Diagram 3 is a photo of the exterior of the FALVS®. Liquid metal-organics are supplied from “Source IN” and the vaporized metal-organics are supplied to the process chamber from “Gas OUT.”

In order to apply high temperature heat to the whole product, a cartridge heater is utilized internally on the aluminum plate and a jacket made of heat insulating material covers the product to achieve high heat uniformity. Due to the maximum operation temperature of the control circuit board being low, the circuit board is designed to be installed in a case separate from the main FALVS® body. The P0 pressure sensor which supports high temperatures and monitors pressure inside the vaporizer is shown in the cross section structure image of diagram 2 (right), and is dedicated to detecting the pressure of high temperature gas inside the vaporizer.

By continuously reading the pressure levels inside the vaporizer with the pressure sensor, it is possible to check the remaining amount of liquid inside the vaporizer and liquid metal-organics can be supplied routinely to the vaporizer. Also, due to it being equipped with a preheater it is possible to support liquid metal-organics with a large heat capacity and latent heat of evaporation. Furthermore, due to an insulating layer being installed between the vaporizer and preheater, heat is prevented from being transferred away from the vaporizer to the preheater when the temperature setting of the preheater is lower than the vaporizer. This configuration prevents the temperature of the vaporizer from falling and improves the efficiency of the vaporization.

Diagram 3. FALVS® external view

The maximum temperature of the gas that can be supplied to the FALVSВ® is 220в„ѓ, and sufficient vapor pressure can be maintained even for metal-organic materials such as Hf, Ta, Zr, Al, Ti, Zn, In, Ga, P, etc. including Si which has extremely low vapor pressure (120в„ѓ heat with 0.1kPa abs., etc.) and a precise and precise flow control is possible. In order to fully utlize metal-organic materials, the precise control of the composition ratio is required for each element.

Since the FALVS® has no fluctuations in the control of the gas flow rate caused by external interference such as temperature and gas supply pressure variations, it is possible to precisely control the pressure and composition ratio of the gas which are important parameters for the compound semiconductor manufacturing process. Due to this, the range of metal-organic materials that can be used with high dielectric constants, ferroelectric/barrier metals​, transparent conductive films and compound semiconductor materials is rapidly increasing. It can be said that a great number of possiblities are opened for new process developments.

2. Evaluation items

2-1. Creativity of technology

2-1-1. High speed response (resource saving)

Flow stabilization time of the conventional liquid material vaporization supply system is 15 seconds, while FALVS® takes less than 1 second. In less than 1 second after receiving the control signal, the gas flow rate can be controlled with high speed and precision.

The advantage of having a high speed response time is that the time to stabilize the control of the gas flow rate is shortened, which greatly reduces the amount of expensive metal-organic materials discarded, and by efficiently utilizing metal-organic gas, the process saves resources.

By using the FALVS®, a great improvement in resource saving can be implemented compared to the conventional process which had to discard 15 seconds of expensive metal-organic gases for a 60 second process.

2-1-2. Helium gas is not required (reduce costs/resources)

With conventional technology, a large amount of helium gas is required as carrier gas for supplying liquid materials, but with the FALVS® helium gas is not required at all.

Due to this, running costs are drastically reduced.

2-1-3. Supports particle free and high temperatures (supports clean high temperatures)

The compact vaporizer supports high temperatures up to a maximum of 220в„ѓ, and due to the complete vaporization system, metal-organic materials are completely vaporized, which removes the cause of particle generation. In addition, by adopting the improvement of the temperature control and heat input method, adopting the principle of evaporation based on academic achievement, we have realized depot / clogging free of MO material and we have greatly improved the maintenance frequency / cycle.

2-1-4. Supports high flow

Recently, as the diameter of wafer circuit boards increase, a high flow is also required.

The FALVS® has the ability to supply 1.8 times more than conventional technology.

As described above, carrier gases are not required, and due to the 100% concentration of metal-oraganic gas supply with a complete vaporization system, a high flow is also possible.

Table 1 below compares the superior technology and creativity of the FALVS® against competing products.

Table 1. Comparison against conventional systems

2-2. Performance

2-2-1. Establishing a pressure detection system

We devised a system to fill the vaporizing unit with liquid material by constantly detecting the pressure inside the vaporizing unit, and applied to FALVS®. This is realized by utilizing the high-temperature pressure sensor technology accumulated from the past.

The high temperature compatible pressure sensor responds in less than 1ms, and precisely controls the supply and suspension of liquid to the vaporizing unit.

The control sequence is shown in diagram 4. Points ①~⑤ in diagram 4 are explained below and detail the control operation for supplying liquid to the vaporizing unit, while continuously supplying gas to the process chamber.

Diagram 4. Control sequence of pressure detection method

  1. в‘ . In the state heated at the prescribed temperature, the liquid material in the vaporizing unit shows the vapor pressure according to the heating temperature.(For illustrative purposes, saturated vapor pressure is assumed to be “200 kPa abs.”).
  2. в‘Ў. By releasing the high temperature gas from the vaporizing unit as shown in the Gas OUT of diagram 2 (gas supplied to process chamber), the liquid material inside the vaporizing unit is consumed and the gas pressure is lowered (Example: 200 в†’ 150kPa abs.)
  3. в‘ў. By setting the threshold value for the predetermined gas pressure (150kPa abs.), at the moment the pressure inside the vaporizing unit falls below the threshold value, the liquid supply valve is opened, and a new fixed amount of liquid material is supplied from the Source In as shown in diagram 2. The threshold pressure is set higher than the minimum required pressure for the flow controller (130kPa abs.).
  4. в‘Ј. When the liquid material is supplied to the vaporizing unit and vaporized, the predetermined pressure returns (150 в†’ 200kPa abs.).
  5. ⑤. With the timing for ③, the liquid material supply valve is opened, and after 2 seconds of the fixed time, it is closed and the supply of liquid material stops.

By repeating the control operations shown in ①~⑤, liquid material is supplied regularly to the vaporizing unit. The pressure inside the vaporizing unit is continuously maintained above the minimum required supply pressure so that the flow controller can control the flow stably.

As shown above, the pressure inside the vaporizing unit is constantly changing. Fujikin has the technology (FCS®-P technology) that absorbs these fluctuations so that the gas can be supplied with a high precision flow without these fluctuations.

The flow controller was developed so that it can utilize this technology with the FALVS®. As a result of this, the flow controller can be directly connected to the vaporizing unit, and a compact system is completed that can be installed in the direct vicinity of the process chamber.

2-3. Economical

2-3-1. Expensive helium gas is not required

Carrier gas (mainly He gas) was indispensable for conventional liquid material vaporization supply system, but carrier gas is completely unnecessary when using the FALVS®.

In the deposition process that uses the conventional system, helium gas is always used 6 liters per minute. When using the FALVS® in the same process, around 4 million yen in gas fees can be saved in 1 year.

2-3-2. Large energy savings

By unifying the vaporizing unit and flow controller in the FALVS®, the system becomes compact and reduces the footprint. This makes it possible to install it close to the process chamber.

Since the area that heat is applied to is reduced, an energy saving of up to 86% can be expected (diagram 1).

2-3-3. A highly concentrated gas supply improves productivity.

The FALVS® is also capable of supplying metal-organic gas at 100% concentration. Due to the FALVS® not requiring carrier gases which are indispensable in conventional systems, when comparing the same process of controlling the gas flow, the process time is reduced which contributes greatly to the improvement of the takt time.

This is because the supplied metal-organic gas is not diluted with helium gas. We evaluated that “the processing time of one wafer has improved by 12%.”

Also, with conventional systems there were frequent occurrences of problems with the disintegrating and deposition of metal-organic materials and equipment maintenance was required every 3 months. With the FALVS® there are no such problems.

Since installation fees and production stop time for maintenance and replacements are not required, productivity is greatly improved and huge cost advantages can be expected.

2-4. Prospects for the future after starting favorably in the market

The cumulative shipment and sales of FALVS® exceeded 1,500 units, and now it is one of the main products.

Domestically, we have received inquiries from multiple companies for uses such as fuel cell evaluation systems, hard coating for cutting tool surface and concentrated H2O2 liquids for sterilization. We have also received inquiries and adoption with various new materials and the range of applications is increasing.

Looking ahead, we expect demand for installation in CVD process equipment for LEDs, solar cells, high frequency devices and power devices. We are also looking at expanding the applications to other processes such as atomic layer deposition (ALD), ashing, oxidization, diffusion and cleaning. We aim to sell a total of 3000 units after 3 years.

2017 7th Monodzukuri Nippon Grand Award, awarded by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. Fujikin Advanced Liquid Vaporizing System details and features.