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Adapt or Die – Five RF Power Supply Innovations to Survive

Posted May 14, 2019 by Dhaval Dhayatkar

I recently read an article that referenced Ann Kelleher, Senior VP and GM of Intel’s technology and manufacturing and her keynote address at SEMI’s 2019 Industry Strategy Symposium with a quote from Charles Darwin:

“It’s not the strongest of a species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Of course, Darwin wasn’t talking about semiconductors, but it rings true for the semiconductor manufacturing industry today. The rate of technology evolution in our industry is only accelerating. The landscape for chips is shifting as well. Gartner predicts that demand will grow faster for industrial, automotive and data storage applications than consumers goods like smartphones. What’s common across these faster growth applications is the need for more computing power – and, consequently, fabrication processes that deliver higher density, more compact chips.

Survival of the Fittest

Evolution also favors the “fittest” companies, those that can adjust to changing market requirements. Given this, OEMs are looking for partners that will focus on R&D that delivers precise deposition and etching for 3D-NAND and Fin FETs architecture and multi-patterning which gives them solutions that deliver the agility required to adapt processes for critical yield and business requirements, including:

  • Produce highly uniform plasma across wafer
  • Tailor film stress during fabrication
  • Enable high aspect ratio etch for V-NAND stacks
  • Shrink process times to increase productivity

We’re making RF plasma generators which provide new levels of precise power delivery, fast tuning and advanced control through complex recipe transitions and recipe step modes. More specifically, we’re innovating in five key areas to create those benefits.

  1. Pulsing/Pulse Synchronization – Pulsing switches RF power levels high and low to tailor plasma properties. Multi-level pulsing keeps plasma operating during lower pulse states, reducing impedance swing and electron temperature. Independent control of rise and fall times reduce power spikes and minimize impact of sudden plasma impedance changes.
  2. Automatic Tuning – Flexible automatic tuning instantly adjusts power supply frequency for optimum operation and keep pace, in real time with the abrupt plasma impedance changes.
  3. Arc Management – Advanced arc management capabilities allow power supplies to manage output power to extinguish arc events and prevent arcs from damaging wafer quality.
  4. Advanced Metrology – AE power supplies’ power and impedance measurement technology is so tight it rivals the accuracy of a network analyzer. This ensures highly accurate and reliable power delivery across a broad range of impedances.
  5. Integrated Data Acquisition – AE’s power supplies offer digital data acquisition. This speeds up new process development and system troubleshooting by reducing the need to install a directional coupler and oscilloscope when troubleshooting.

In follow-up posts, I’ll drill down into the specific products we offer – and keep enhancing – to give you RF plasma generators that offer configuration and control for today’s applications. So, please stay tuned and, of course, share your comments or questions on this post.


Dhaval Dhayatkar

Advanced Energy
Dhaval is a Senior Director of Marketing of Plasma Power at Advanced Energy, responsible for strategic product marketing and product management for RF and DC generators, RF Matching Networks and Remote Plasma Sources. Prior to his current role, he held various positions in engineering, global services and product management at Advanced Energy. He holds a Masters in Electrical Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder and is pursuing a Masters of Business Administration from the University of California, LA (UCLA). In his free time, Dhaval likes to read, bike and travel.
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