CHINA: At SEMICON China next week, Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc. (AMEC) will make its solid-state lighting (SSL) market debut with a new multi-reactor metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) cluster tool.
The Prismo D-Blue MOCVD platform enables high-volume manufacturing of sophisticated GaN, InGaN and AlGaN ultrathin layered structures required for high-brightness LEDs. With precise parameter control, full automation and an unusually compact design, it's a new-generation MOCVD tool built for today's LED manufacturing must-haves: high productivity, high yields and lowest possible cost-of-ownership.
A Prismo tool has already been shipped to a customer's LED production line in China.
The patented architecture can accommodate up to four reactors. Each reactor can be controlled independently—an inventive design that enables exceptional manufacturing flexibility. It is the only tool of its kind with this capability.
This means it can process in parallel or sequential mode, which reduces cross-contamination and ensures the high crystalline quality required for advanced LED applications. The tool's footprint efficiency is unmatched—nearly 30 percent smaller than competitive single-reactor systems—making the Prismo a smarter fit for today's LED fabs.
Solid-state lighting is a natural market move for AMEC. An emerging innovation leader, the company provides advanced processing technologies and tools to the global semiconductor industry. Today more than 200 AMEC etch stations are operating in production at 16 leading semiconductor fabs across Asia.
The silicon technology experience, process knowledge, disciplined R&D protocols and materials engineering pedigree that produced AMEC's semiconductor front-end equipment were applied to develop the Prismo D-Blue platform. AMEC's new LED customers will also benefit from the company's stringent supplier-management protocols.
The timing is good for a new MOCVD player – especially one with an R&D and manufacturing hub in Shanghai. Between now and 2017, the market for MOCVD tools is estimated to be $4.3 billion, according to research firm Yole Developpement. China will continue to dominate global manufacturing activity. With bulb prices dropping, LEDs are becoming the de-facto alternative to traditional incandescent lights for retrofits and new builds.
Cheaper bulbs mean tighter margins for LED manufacturers, which makes production efficiencies more essential than ever. This puts AMEC's high-productivity tool in a sweet spot.
"The SSL market is an essential element of our growth strategy," said Dr. Zhiyou Du, senior VP and GM of AMEC's MOCVD Product Business Division. "Our expert MOCVD technology team has created a differentiated, thoroughly flexible MOCVD platform with innovations to solve complex technical and production challenges. We're excited to offer customers this highly productive and cost-efficient alternative technology to make their advanced LED devices."
The Prismo platform can process up to 216 2-inch wafers simultaneously. The processing capability will extend to 4, 6 and 8-inch wafer production. Beyond the multi-reactor architecture configured for maximum process flexibility, the Prismo excels in every key performance category.
In marathon runs, the tool demonstrated breakthrough repeatability and excellent within-wafer and wafer-to-wafer uniformity. These results were achieved with no recipe adjustments throughout the entire epitaxial process. For a process with extreme sensitivity to chamber surface conditions, chemical environments, temperature shifts, and other variables, the repeatability performance is in a class of its own.
In the same marathons the system encountered zero process interruptions. The high reliability is enabled by in-situ, real-time monitoring of growth process parameters. It's also thanks to sophisticated software, advanced transfer modules, and process automation and control technologies– the same field-proven technologies that distinguish AMEC's semiconductor front-end processing tools.
Finally, the Prismo is optimized for easy maintenance - imperative in a fast-moving, cost-conscious LED production fab. Exceptional process performance and uptime extends the interval between services, while novel design features make servicing easier. Also, automated and programmable maintenance routines make reactor open/close operations safer, faster, predictable and less prone to error.
Special innovations embodied in the Prismo D-Blue MOCVD platform are protected by a portfolio of more than 100 patents (granted and pending). In addition, the tool follows semiconductor manufacturing disciplines and complies fully with SEMI standards.