21 March 2023
Oxford Instruments accelerating qualification programs for Plasma Polish production ramp in 2023
UK-based Oxford Instruments says that, with intensive qualification projects underway with several leading manufacturers, it has been confirmed that its Plasma Polish technique can be applied, with great effect, to improve silicon carbide (SiC) substrate surface and reduce subsurface damage for multiple production processes, where SiC crystal quality is a critical yield-limiting factor.
Launched by Oxford Instruments at the International Conference on Silicon Carbide and Related Materials (ICSCRM 2022) in Davos, Switzerland last September, the 200mm-compatible SiC substrate polishing technique is being tested with commercial partners at several points in the SiC device fabrication supply chain, such as boule growth, pre- and post-epi and in between epitaxial layers, to meet higher-voltage device requirements. In addition, the repeatability and damage-reducing benefits of Plasma Polish have also been demonstrated with 12 suppliers across the USA, Europe, Middle-East & Africa (EMEA) and Asia, with the process therefore proving to be an effective solution on any given SiC material.
Qualification of the technique has demonstrated what is described as state-of-the-art surface and subsurface damage reduction capability, targeting maximum power device yield. In addition to technical advantages, Plasma Polish brings opportunities to reduce the polishing cost of SiC substrates across multiple steps in the supply chain, while at the same time reducing the environmental impact of the process, says the firm. An alternative approach to chemical mechanical polish (CMP), Plasma Polish lends itself to the production of high-yield, cost-effective power devices – helping to address a key challenge to SiC adoption.
Oxford Instruments says that, with significant market interest in Plasma Polish coming from key customers throughout the SiC supply chain, it is at advanced stages of qualification with multiple companies and is ramping up Plasma Polish module production.
“The engagement we have had with customers so far has been phenomenal, and we are continuously confirming the benefits Plasma Polish offers to solve current and future technical challenges hampering SiC adoption,” says Bas Derksema, global sales & marketing director at Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology (OIPT) of Yatton, near Bristol, UK. “Both gallium nitride and silicon carbide are key to Oxford Instruments’ growth plans in the wide-bandgap power space, and we have production solutions and a very exciting leading-edge development pathway aligned to our customers’ current and future challenges,” he adds.
“Our new Severn Beach production and research facility, coming online in the next 12 months, increases our production capacity by over 50%, with a doubling of application lab space, which will allow us to continue developing market-leading innovative solutions, and ramp up our production capacity to respond to growing market demand.”
At the Applied Power Electronics Conference & Exposition (APEC 2023) in Orlando, Florida (19-23 March), Oxford Instruments is on hand to discuss how its SiC and GaN substrate prep, surface modification, feature etch, atomic layer epitaxy (ALE), atomic layer deposition (ALD) and Etchpoint process solutions can generate more high-quality wafers per day at lower cost, it is claimed.
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