For many years AG Associates was the dominant manufacturer of RTP systems. It was founded in 1981 and produced the first single wafer RTP system in 1982, the Heatpulse 210. In 1987, it produced the Heatpulse 610. These RTP systems run at atmospheric pressure and rely on a pre-process nitrogen or argon purge prior to wafer processing. They are still being used around the world in manufacturing, R&D and Universities. These RTP systems have a proven track record for reliability and simplicity.
An atmospheric RTP system does not have to spend this extra time for pump-down and venting. There are production atmospheric RTP systems that can process over 100 wafers per hour. This allows for high volume runs and fewer machines to be purchased. This also requires less floor space and facilities than the vacuum RTP system.
An atmospheric RTP chamber is air tight. This can be tested by processing a TiSi wafer. If the chamber has been purged effectively, the wafer should not turn blue. This indicates no oxygen is present. If there is no oxygen, then there is no leak from ambient air around the chamber.
Both the atmospheric and vacuum RTP chambers are water cooled, but the wafer cools down faster in the atmospheric RTP chamber. The abundant amount of gas diffused throughout the chamber increases the heat transfer off of the wafer.
The atmospheric RTP system has a removable quartz isolation chamber. This chamber is removed and cleaned periodically, like the window. However, it can be cleaned hundreds of times. While the quartz chamber is being cleaned, a spare quartz chamber can be installed. Thus, the down-time is just a few minutes.
There are several benefits with the atmospheric RTP system. It has a faster process time. It occupies a smaller floor space. The initial cost is less and it costs less over time. Also, the up?time is higher.
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