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A new integrated circuit cleaning technique
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A new integrated circuit cleaning technique

May 5, 2010
A new integrated circuit cleaning technique developed by chemical engineering Professor Dennis Hess of Georgia Institute of Technology streamlines the integrated circuits (ICs)--miniature assemblies of electronic components vital to the electronics industry--fabrication process and makes it more environmentally friendly. Graduate student Tazrien Kamal shows Hess a treated sample in his laboratory.

In order to function properly, ICs must be ultra clean. The production of ICs is done in an ultra clean environment called a "clean room." There are about 400 processing steps involved in making a typical IC. Fifty to sixty of these steps involve cleaning the various surfaces involved in the process. Most of the cleaning is done using liquids--usually acids and bases--which means that time has to be allowed for drying. But Hess' new technique eliminates the drying step, streamlining the process and making it more environmentally friendly.

Hess heats water to temperatures above the boiling point while simultaneously adding pressure to keep the water in the liquid phase. After the cleaning is complete, Hess reduces the pressure and flashes the liquid off the surface. The technique is more environmentally friendly than the methods currently used, because it uses water instead of toxic and corrosive chemicals.

The next step for Hess will be collaboration with IC equipment and device manufacturers to try out his method on actual IC wafers.


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