As semiconductor wafer processing equipment becomes more and more complex, equipment OEMs are highly focused on the process, or “on-wafer results,” rather than the actual hardware itself. This has created the opportunity for critical sub-system suppliers like Reno Sub-Systems to bring new value to OEMs, by using its core competencies and providing the technology needed to facilitate those advanced processes, rather than the OEM developing that hardware in-house. This new symbiotic relationship has propelled the critical sub-systems market space to over $1 billion in annual revenues, and it is expected to grow faster than the overall equipment market itself over the next five years.
Reno Sub-Systems recognizes this trend, and our patented EVC™ matching network technology is quickly being adopted as the “best of breed” for atomic layer etch and atomic layer deposition plasma processes. Complex structures and materials demand new RF solutions, and Reno Sub-Systems has responded by providing OEMs the capability to eliminate RF variability on plasma etch and deposition processing, especially where pulsed RF is needed.
While OEMs are becoming more dependent on critical sub-system suppliers, they are also trending toward a smaller number of suppliers and having them take sub-system responsibility. Reno has taken the next logical step in this supply chain paradigm shift by developing its own electronic RF generators for use with its all electronic matching networks. This RF system approach offers Reno’s patented Velocity™ EVC™ matching network and Reno’s newly developed Precis™ RF generator units sold as a set.
This pairing of RF matching networks with RF generators from the same supplier has many benefits. It allows the sub-system supplier to take responsibility for the entire RF delivery system, but in Reno’s case, it does much more. Reno’s all-electronic RF matching network provides the opportunity to link the power delivery and the RF matching in real time, and use the ultra-fast matching speed to its advantage in diagnostics and control.
Improving on-wafer process results and further reducing RF variability using sensor data is one such benefit. Internally, the RF matching network can keep a record of certain parameters, which can be analyzed by the RF matching network or provided to a system to analyze. From those parameters, certain ranges within which the matching network can operate can be provided along with a warning to the system, or user, if any of those parameters fall outside a valid range. The user can also set the matching network in a learning mode where the unit learns the valid ranges and does not trigger an alarm. That learning process can be ongoing and in real time, and the data can be used to alter the power delivered to the matching network from the RF generator for increased process control.
Pairing an RF generator with an RF matching network from the same manufacturer is not unique to Reno Sub-Systems, but the capabilities and performance of the Velocity™ EVC™ RF matching network make this sub-system set one of a kind. Blazing fast, dependable and repeatable matches, an unparalleled level of monitoring and diagnostic possibilities, plus the ability to accurately match impedance with each RF pulse is giving OEMs’ a new RF power platform to build their most advanced etch and deposition processes.
Written by: John Voltz, VP of Business Development