21 Mar 2012 – SPTS Technologies, a supplier of advanced wafer processing solutions for the global semiconductor industry and related markets, today announced that it has commissioned its first vapor hydrogen fluoride (VHF) etch system in China. The Primaxx® Monarch 3 has been installed at the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology (SIMIT) for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) dry release etch applications. SIMIT is a multidisciplinary institute within the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) that engages in both fundamental and applied research. The Primaxx Monarch 3 system is housed at SIMIT’s facility in Shanghai, China.

HF vapor is a dry etchant for removing sacrificial silicon oxide in MEMS structures, providing benefits over conventional wet etching. With a patented, reduced pressure process that is capable of penetrating and releasing very small features, SPTS’ HF vapor etch technology delivers higher device yields as it prevents both stiction and attack on any exposed aluminum surface. In conventional wet-etching, stiction occurs when the released microstructure and substrate are pulled together by the surface tension of the liquid between them during drying of the etchant, and the two surfaces adhere together, damaging the device structure.

Professor Yang Heng from SIMIT, stated, "One of the main reasons for selecting SPTS’ HF release system for our MEMS accelerometer project was its ability to release very small features without stiction; a characteristic which is not matched by conventional wet HF etch. SPTS demonstrated process expertise with stable and repeatable results within a wide process window. We also wanted to work with a vendor who could offer timely local customer support through an experienced team"

Paul Hammond, senior director and general manager of SPTS’ Primaxx Products Division, said, "We are proud to achieve the key milestone of shipping the first Primaxx Monarch 3 system into the rapidly growing Chinese market. Our vapor HF dry etch technology is used extensively in a wide range of MEMS applications, from R&D through to high volume production. Our customers appreciate the yield and productivity advantages that come from our dry technology.”

The Primaxx Monarch 3 system uses a 3-wafer process module to increase throughput without compromising process repeatability, providing high uptime and low cost of system ownership.

About the SPTS Primaxx® Release Etch Technology

SPTS is the world leader in reduced pressure, residue-free MEMS dry etch release, a critical buried oxide etch step which “releases” the moving components of challenging MEMS device designs. Combining anhydrous HF gas and alcohol vapor at reduced pressure provides a wide, stable process window that can address different oxide compositions and thicknesses while maintaining high selectivity to other common materials found in MEMS designs including aluminum. The “dry” Primaxx® process also eliminates stiction, a yield-killing phenomenon which can bind the moving components of MEMS devices when released with conventional wet processing technology.

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