Thousands of cooling and temperature control systems are installed and operate continuously in fabrication facilities. The critical production tools used in semiconductor fabrication facilities must be reliable and easy to service to minimize downtime. Laird Thermal Systems offers custom cooling and temperature control systems for semiconductor fabrication equipment.
High-precision temperature control
Laird Thermal Systems’ custom liquid cooling systems for semiconductor tools are specifically designed to keep the equipment running at precise temperatures. This includes heat exchangers, pumps, sensors, thermoelectric modules, thermoelectric assemblies, thermoelectric chillers, compressors, flow controllers, temperature controllers, and more.
The cooling capacity demands for semiconductor fabrication equipment can vary from a couple of hundred Watts (thermoelectric chiller and compressor based systems) to hundreds of Kilowatts (liquid-to-liquid cooling systems) with required temperature control ranges from -80°C to +150°C. Most of the applications only require one stable temperature set point. However, in the final chip test environment, temperatures are required to vary in order to stress the chip. In this case, different temperature set points need to be obtained by a single thermal management system. Due to the high-precision processes, tool manufacturers demand a very stable temperature environment. Typical of these requirements are +/-0.1K stability (e.g. for etching) to ±0.001K (e.g. for lithography), while cooling capacities can be up to several kilowatts.
Low temperature requirements
In semiconductor fabrication facilities, Laird Thermal Systems ’ custom multistage compressor based chillers are used to support cooling for very low temperature requirements. When using standard chillers, modifications are often needed to meet the requirements and sometimes even a water-cooled condenser.
Laird Thermal Systems ’ liquid-to-liquid cooling systems operate close to ambient and are based on a fluid-to-fluid heat-exchange principle. We also offer cost-efficient thermoelectric-based (19” rack) cooling systems for etch applications.
What is unique with Laird Thermal Systems’ custom cooling systems is that they consist of a water-cooled instead of an air-cooled evaporator. This result in a quieter operation because a fan is not required. More importantly, the heat can be rejected by available general facility cooling water and may not be rejected into the air temperature conditioned environment.
All cooling and temperature control systems are built to meet SEMI S2 or F47 standard, including seismic protection. They can be positioned near the production tool, hidden in a false floor or on the lower level in a sub-floor. There is also a possibility to configure the systems to meet cleanroom requirements.
Expertise in challenging environments
A semiconductor fabrication environment is one of the most challenging applications for designing and building liquid based cooling systems. Careful consideration is required not only for component selection, but also for the overall liquid cooling system unit and its integration with the semiconductor tools. System challenges that designers face include the type of heat transfer mechanism utilized on the control and heat dissipation sides, material compatibility, valve control, cleanliness, space optimization, semi compliance and serviceability. These are all areas that need of attention to properly ensure optimized total cost of ownership.
Laird Thermal Systems has expertise in engineering design services and a global presence that supports onsite concept generation, thermal modeling, mechanical and electrical design and rapid prototyping. We also offer validation test services to meet unique compliance standards for the semiconductor industry. To maximize uptime, the semiconductor equipment can be complemented with Laird Thermal Systems’ advanced temperature controllers with monitoring and alarm functionality.
Key features of Laird Thermal Systems liquid cooling systems in semiconductor fabrication applications
- Protect the tool process against chemical reaction by avoiding an unknown Wetted-Parts-Material-Mix.
- Achieve a stable temperature, independent from variations in facility water temperatures.
- Achieve a temperature below or above the facility water temperature.
- Solve different temperature or fluid requirements at one tool with a multi-loop liquid cooling system.
Because semiconductor fabrication environments are the most challenging for designing liquid based cooling systems, careful consideration must be taken. To learn more, read our application note Liquid to Liquid Ambient Cooling Systems for Semiconductor Tools