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13 March 2013

AMEC debuts MOCVD platform for high-volume HB-LED manufacturing, with extendibility to GaN-on-Si

At the SEMICON China show in Shanghai next week (19-21 March), Shanghai-based dielectric and through-silicon via (TSV) etch tool supplier Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc (AMEC) is making its solid-state lighting (SSL) market debut by launching a multi-reactor metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) cluster tool.

The firm says that its Prismo D-Blue MOCVD platform enables high-volume manufacturing of gallium nitride (GaN), indium gallium nitride (InGaN) and aluminium gallium nitride (AlGaN) ultrathin-layered structures required for high-brightness LEDs. With precise parameter control, full automation and a compact design, the new MOCVD tool for LED manufacturing targets high productivity, high yields and low cost-of-ownership. A Prismo tool has already been shipped to a customer’s LED production line in China.

The patented architecture can accommodate up to four reactors. Each reactor can be controlled independently, enabling manufacturing flexibility (claimed to be the only tool of its kind with this capability). The system can hence process in parallel or sequential mode, reducing cross-contamination and ensuring the high crystalline quality required for advanced LED applications, the firm adds. Also, the tool’s footprint efficiency is claimed to be nearly 30% smaller than competing single-reactor systems.

AMEC reckons that solid-state lighting is a natural market move for it. Currently, more than 200 AMEC etch stations are operating in production at 16 semiconductor fabs across Asia. The firm says that the silicon technology experience, process knowledge, R&D protocols and materials engineering that produced its front-end semiconductor equipment have been applied to develop the Prismo D-Blue platform, while new LED customers can benefit from its stringent supplier-management protocols.

The firm reckons that the timing is good for a new MOCVD supplier, especially one with an R&D and manufacturing hub in Shanghai. Between now and 2017, the market for MOCVD tools will be $4.3bn, estimates market research firm Yole Developpement, and China will continue to dominate global manufacturing. With bulb prices dropping, LEDs are becoming the de-facto alternative to traditional incandescent lights for retrofits and new builds, AMEC says. Cheaper bulbs mean tighter margins for LED makers, making production efficiencies (and high-productivity tools such as AMEC's) more essential than ever.

“The SSL market is an essential element of our growth strategy,” says Dr Zhiyou Du, senior VP & general manager of AMEC’s MOCVD Product Business Division. “Our expert MOCVD technology team has created a differentiated, thoroughly flexible MOCVD platform with innovations to solve complex technical and production challenges,” he adds.

The Prismo platform can process up to 216 2-inch wafers simultaneously. Processing capability will extend to 4-, 6- and 8-inch wafer production, says AMEC. In marathon runs, the tool has demonstrated good repeatability and within-wafer and wafer-to-wafer uniformity with no recipe adjustments throughout the epitaxial process, the firm adds, despite the inherent sensitivity of the process to chamber surface conditions, chemical environments, temperature shifts, and other variables.

In the same marathon runs the system encountered zero process interruptions, the firm adds. Reliability is enabled by in-situ, real-time monitoring of growth process parameters, as well as the software, transfer modules, and process automation and control technologies (as per the field-proven technologies of AMEC’s front-end processing tools).

AMEC also says that the Prismo is optimized for easy maintenance (imperative in fast-moving, cost-conscious LED production). The process performance and uptime extends the interval between services, it is claimed, while novel design features aim to make servicing easier. Also, automated and programmable maintenance routines aim to make reactor open/close operations safer, faster, predictable and less prone to error, the firm adds.

The Prismo D-Blue MOCVD platform is protected by a portfolio of more than 100 patents (granted and pending), says AMEC, while the tool also follows semiconductor manufacturing disciplines and complies fully with SEMI standards.

AMEC is hosting a launch event at SEMICON China. To attend, e-mail Lorentz Tsai at



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