Brooks, Schneider ally to deliver semiconductor APC solutions

Raleigh, N.C.—To help improve 300-mm wafer process quality, Brooks Automation Inc. and Schneider Electric (Palatine, IL) announced Oct. 15 an alliance to deliver new advanced process control (APC) solutions for wafer fabrication. Brooks supplies automation solutions to the semiconductor industry.


Raleigh, N.C.— To help improve 300-mm wafer process quality, Brooks Automation Inc. and Schneider Electric (Palatine, IL) announced Oct. 15 an alliance to deliver new advanced process control (APC) solutions for wafer fabrication. Brooks supplies automation solutions to the semiconductor industry.

The agreement between Brooks and Schneider's Microelectronics Engineering Services (SEMES) team will allow the two companies to work together to develop new sensor technologies that improve semiconductor manufacturing process quality. The alliance also creates a joint sales and marketing effort to microelectronics end-users. In addition, Schneider will be licensed as an authorized reseller of certain Brooks products.

'This agreement will create a bridge between the two worlds we work in,' says John Scoville, director of Brooks' equipment engineering systems (EES) division. 'By working together, Brooks and Schneider will be able to bring customers much greater value.'

Schneider's focus has been on applying APC solutions at the tool level using intellectual property from its PLC and SEMES groups, while Brooks has provided PC-based automation solutions between the tool and enterprise levels, including software products for APC solutions, robotics, and full-fab automation systems.

'This alliance is an important step in our strategy to grow our industrial business in the important microelectronics segment,' says Mike Harley, general manager of Schneider's North American industrial market business. 'It lays a solid foundation for delivering integrated solutions that improve process control and the profitability of this key industry.'

While the semiconductor industry has begun to rapidly improve its ability to efficiently produce 300-mm wafers, the core manufacturing processes are still being perfected, according to Scoville. 'Making 300-mm wafers will continue to challenge the leaders in the industry due to the larger wafers, ever-shrinking line width, and the introduction of copper interconnects and low-K dielectrics,' says Scoville. 'With all these new variables, fabs have yet to achieve the same level of quality or yield as they did with 200-mm wafers. That's why the development of new sensor technologies is so important, and why integrating sensor data is critical. We have to make advances at both the tool level and the factory level to achieve the promise of 300-mm.'

In addition, Schneider has pioneered new sensor technologies during the past few years, including in-situ particle monitoring; end-point detection; and plasma and RF arc detection, which provides new data that manufacturers can use to gauge tool health and improve process quality. The agreement with Brooks will provide new ways for this information to be collected, and used for comprehensive data analysis to improve tool performance and manufacturing productivity.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor

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