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Using Nitrogen Gas in the Semiconductor Manufacturing Process

June 30, 2020

With technology and engineering innovations rapidly progressing, an unlimited number of modern gadgets including smartphones and laptops depend on semiconductors to perform. With semiconductor manufacturers under pressure to produce smaller and better performing components, the need to perfect the production process requires the use of assist gases.

Due to its inert nature, nitrogen gas makes an excellent choice in crafting the best semiconductor components. Nitrogen gas is cheap, readily available, and can be used for inerting, fabrication, reworking, and component soldering processes.

In this article, we highlight the nitrogen production process and how nitrogen gas can be used in the manufacture of semiconductors on an industrial scale.

semiconductor manufacturing process

How Is Nitrogen Gas Used in the Semiconductor Manufacturing Process?

Outlined below are the ways gaseous nitrogen is applied in semiconductor production.

Applications

Nitrogen gas is used in the following processes of semiconductor manufacturing:

  • Deposition
  • Nitrogen purging
  • Periodic chamber clearance
  • Continuous idle equipment purging

Deposition

This process of creating semiconductors involves the interaction of a substrate and gaseous reactants within a reaction chamber at elevated temperatures. This reaction results in the deposition of progressive layers of thin films of material until the required thickness is achieved.

Nitrogen-containing compounds such as ammonia and nitrous oxide are routinely employed in this process to fabricate high-quality semiconductors.

Nitrogen Purging

The major function of nitrogen in semiconductor production is purging. Gaseous nitrogen is passed through all channels and piping networks to displace oxygen from production tools as well as the semiconductor wafers. N2 purging surfaces will keep them free from other gaseous and liquid contaminants (water vapor, particles) which might adversely affect the crafting processes.

Periodic Chamber Clearance

Most semiconductors are forged inside specialized process chambers where the internal conditions must be carefully regulated. During each production cycle, there is a chance of accumulation of excess materials within and on the electronic components being produced, resulting in defective items. To prevent this from occurring, nitrogen trifluoride gas can be used to eliminate excess material after each stage.

Continuous Idle Equipment Purging

Apart from its use in active production cycles, a continuous stream of nitrogen through idle abatement equipment will prevent the onset of pyrophoric reactions in the presence of oxygen.

nitrogen gas in semiconductor manufacturing

How Is Oxygen Used in the Semiconductor Manufacturing Process?

The oxygen required for semiconductor grafting processes is typically ultra-high purity. This gas is used as an oxidizing agent in various stages of production including:

  • Silicon layer deposition
  • Etching co-reactant gas
  • Reactive gas neutralization

Silicon Layer Deposition

The combination of substrate and two gas-phase reactants under elevated temperatures is the basis for the creation of basic semiconductor materials. Oxygen forms a vital part of the two gases used in these deposition reactions. Argon or helium can be used as co-substrates to further activate the deposition process.

Etching Co-reactant Gas

Following the lithographic stage of processing where the desired shapes of electronic components are formed, etchant gases can be used to remove excess material and make created patterns permanent. While the most common etchant gases used are carbon-based, oxygen can equally be used to achieve a satisfactory result.

Reactive Gas Neutralization

High purity oxygen can be used in the neutralization of waste gases by oxidation reactions. Process chamber operators can direct a stream of oxygen through abatement equipment to purge the system of reactive by-products that might alter the quality of the finished items.

On-site Nitrogen and Oxygen Generation vs. Bulk Supply

For industrial operators looking to optimize their manufacturing processes, the choice between bulk supply and storage of required gases versus on-site generation is one decision requiring critical consideration.

Dependent on the scale of manufacturing being conducted, each method of gas creation confers advantages. However, in the long term, on-site oxygen generators and nitrogen generators are the more cost-effective and efficient option.

Benefits of On-site Gas Generation

Once the initial installations costs have been covered, on-site generation of the relevant gases used in semiconductor manufacturing confers the following benefits:

  • Cheaper operational costs in the long term due to the elimination of gas wastage, transport, and storage costs
  • Production of high purity gases in the required quantities
  • Significant saving on industrial floor space that would have been dedicated to bulk gas storage
  • Improved safety with the elimination of potential industrial hazards from the storage of volatile gases

GENERON Has the On-site Nitrogen and Oxygen Generation Solutions You Need

Over the last forty years, GENERON has remained dedicated to providing clients with top quality nitrogen generators and oxygen generators. Our services are targeted at achieving maximal industrial productivity while remaining cost-effective.

Contact us online today for more information about the on-site gas generation services we offer.

 

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