Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum

Paul Boughton

Importance of Vacuum Technology for Manufacturing Processes

For modern manufacturing process in science, materials, coatings, semiconductor, flat panel displays (FPDs), LED, and research and development, people have preferably used vacuum processes over non-vacuum processes. The advantages of vacuum-based processes over non-vacuum ones are obvious, as vacuum provides a higher manufacturing control:

-   Materials before and during processes

-   Energy and contamination during processes

-   Impurities during processes

-   Structure and morphology

In addition to these advantages, various types of vacuum pumps have also played an important role in material flow as well as creating reaction mediums for the processes themselves.  Energies such as different plasmas can interact properly with materials under vacuum in chambers. If material density in chambers is too high, ionized, energized or reacted species can neither travel far enough to reach the substrate nor interact with other species to produce the desired materials. Vacuum pumps can also remove by-products and un-reacted precursors from chambers.  Without removing these materials from chambers and vacuum lines, the required vacuum level cannot be maintained and the next step can not be achieved.

Technology has advanced dramatically for smaller structures by controlling factors such as precursors and thermal and kinetic energy inherent in the processes.  Vacuum requirements and the handling of materials under vacuum have become more critical than ever.  This is where vacuum plays a key role in the development and production of next generation products.   

There are different ways to analyze processes at process chambers and along vacuum lines depending upon your point of interest. The general approach will be to look at the materials point of view (chemistry of materials), control of energy point of view and vacuum point of view to better understand the process characteristics that will result in improved tool uptime.  Depending upon the purpose of your process analyses, one aspect can be more important than the rest.

Based on your process conditions, materials change physical and chemical properties as they travel through the material delivery systems, process chambers, vacuum systems, lines and pumps. Some of them go through vigorous physical and chemical changes.  Some remain very reactive and corrosive until reaching the abatement systems.  Chamber cleaning is another critical factor, as there can be even more complicated materials chemistry by the combination of the main processes along with the cleaning chemistry. 

Caution must be used when handling these materials.  Usually vacuum requirements can be verified at the early stages of system testing and the requirements which have to be met are known.  These requirements can be considered and built into the design of the vacuum system.  Sometimes, problems associated with other materials such as particles, reactivity, corrosiveness, powders, temperature-sensitive compounds, etc. are not visible until reaching certain conditions. It is therefore mandatory for stable manufacturing processes to consider the vacuum technology with due care. Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum provides customers with the best technological know how and ample experience in all kinds of applications.


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