Surface Cleanliness Characterization and Improvement for Semiconductor Manufacturing Applications

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Chad Watson


NxEdge, a Boise based company, produces thermal plasma sprayed ceramic coated components used in semiconductor manufacturing tools. The coatings line the inside of plasma etching chambers. They protect the base metal from plasma exposure during processing of semiconductor wafers. The coating is required to have minimal particulate shedding, because the particles become defects in semiconductor parts. Clean Coatings Research Group was tasked with finding new, effective, and economical methods for improving the cleanliness of the coating products, with a goal of 50% reduction in surface particulates. To ensure an accurate cleanliness measurement, the accuracy and reproducibility of a liquid particle counter (LPC) test apparatus was investigated. Sources of error were identified and removed from the system through a detailed test procedure. After the metrology, metal coupons were coated, then polished and cleaned utilizing current production techniques and then by one of six new methods designed by Clean Coatings. The degree of cleanliness, as determined from a baseline for the cleanliness of coupons produced using current production techniques, was established through the LPC test and image analysis of scanning electron micrographs. The changes in surface features which resulted from new cleaning methods were correlated to the results observed using LPC testing to verify the validity of the analysis methods.

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