Transitioning from a Canon Mask Aligner to Next-Generation Equipment

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Several important considerations help microfluidics, MEMS and LED manufacturers decide when to take advantage of next generation photolithography equipment

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We recently converted from the traditional 4

With the introduction of a new generation of modern contact proximity mask aligner for diverse industries such as biotech, consumer electronics, aerospace, communications and transportation, manufacturers seeking greater production can now migrate their operations while staying within budget.

Considered by many as the original trailblazer, Canon PLA and MPA series machines survive today as extremely capable production machines. In the hands of competent remanufacturers such as Neutronix, Inc. (http://www.neutronixinc.com), Canon projection and mask aligners are enjoying a "second wind" today.

However, Canon mask aligners eventually run into limitations imposed by older design and lack of OEM factory support. For this reason, some industries are turning to a new generation of contact aligners that provide greater choice in wafer size and shape and improved flexibility in manufacturing processes. For these applications and requirements Neutronix recommends the Quintel brand of new mask aligners (http://www.quintelcorp.com/)

Wafer size

New generation contact mask aligners must handle new sizes of substrates, ranging from pieces up to 8” diameter.

"We recently converted from the traditional 4" wafer size to the larger 6" wafers," says

Mike Planer, equipment and facilities manager for Silicon Microstructures, Inc. (SMI), a high-volume supplier of pressure sensors and other microstructures.

"All our production is now shifting to the 6" wafer because you get double the area," continues Planer. "What you achieve is twice as many dies for essentially the same amount of money, which is why we went to the Quintel machines."

In business since 1978, Quintel Corp. offers new-generation proximity contact mask aligners capable of handling wafer sizes up to 200mm in diameter. The company's 7500 platform is flexible enough to handle applications that vary from traditional wafer and mask sizes, as well as types and thicknesses of substrate.

Shape

These newer machines can also be adapted to handle different shapes of substrates, such as squares and rectangles. Virtually any size substrate that is less than 210mm diagonal can be processed on this new machine. Glass substrates, which are typical in Microfluidics and display applications, can be easily processed using the NXQ7500.

Flexibility

Because of the open architecture of some new-generation contact mask aligners, manufacturers have a variety of customization choices.

The modular design of Quintel's 7500 Series demonstrates how far contact photolithography technology has been taken. Its features include multiple contact and proximity exposure modes (such as mask deflection mode); UV / NUV and DUV exposure optics; optical and CCTV split-field microscope options; automatic and large gap alignment; and motorized X, Y and theta alignment staging.

Among the most successful derivative technologies spring boarding from this renaissance in contact aligners is MEMS--made possible by optical (OBS) and infrared (IR) backside alignment technology available on some machines.

"Most electronic-only chips are built on one side of a wafer, but a MEMS device is built on both sides," says Planer. "As a MEMS fabricator, it's very important to us to align things from the front of the wafer to the back very closely."

With the tremendous improvements in the latest generation of contact mask aligner, microfluidics, MEMS and LED device manufacturers stand to leverage their investment through a significantly lowered cost of ownership.

For further information contact

Andrea Cagnoni

Neutronix, Inc.

Phone (408) 776-5190 ext. 114

Fax (408) 776-1039

http://www.neutronixinc.com

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