November 17th, 2007 - 1:04 pm ICT by admin  

Tec-Sem, founded in 1981, is one of the pioneers in cleanroom automation. The company was strongly involved during the conversion from 6in to 8in wafer processing in 1986 and also in the introduction of 300mm automation equipment in 1996. In 1994, Tec-Sem introduced the first bare reticle storage systems to the market which today are industry standard. Tec-Sem offers a wide range of automation systems for cleanroom applications such as single wafer management systems, fab automation and logistic systems as well as wafer loading systems for batch process equipment.

Thanks to the more than 20 years’ experience in developing wafer handling systems, Tec-Sem is a well-trusted partner in the semiconductor industry.


Today, wafers in the fabs are still stored in wafer containers as batches on shelves or in cassette stockers. Specifically for small production or test lots, the management of these wafers in cassette batches is far from optimal. Very long wafer access times, huge floor-space consumption and too much wafer and cassette traffic are the problems created by this batch handling.

These problems can be eliminated by the full integration of bare wafer storage with single wafer sorting into one single tool (single wafer management system). The graph on the right-hand side illustrates the differences.

The performance difference between today’s batch-based logistics and Tec-Sem’s single wafer management systems can be easily proven when looking at a realistic example of a lot split from 12 wafers out of a mother FOUP into six child FOUPS (one cassette transfer is assumed as 5mins).

Tec-Sem decided to offer completely new products to the market which integrate the sorter functionality with bare wafer storage capability on minimum floor space. The first so-called single wafer management system for 300mm wafers was installed already in 2001 and today different fabs are using this technology with great success. Interest in this new technology is rapidly picking up speed. The latest product of the single wafer managers is the new Pr@ctor sorter / stocker.


Another important aspect for future fabs will be the improvement in cleanliness in wafer handling and storage. The new, patent-pending bare wafer storage technology of Tec-Sem allows the creation of so-called Micro Cleanrooms inside the stocker area. This again allows storage of the wafer under extremely clean and controlled conditions (ISO1) as well as separation of different wafer categories which should not be mixed. Also, the possibility of purging all or part of the wafers in the stocker is increasingly important.


Lastly, the full integration into the existing factory control systems (MES) is crucial to guarantee data integrity and history tracking in the fab. Individual or multiple single wafer management systems can be linked either directly to the fab MES or through a separate, single wafer capable middle-ware software (WSM).


Every investment must be justifiable by a quick return on investment. The Tec-Sem single wafer management systems are already proven in different leading 300mm fabs and offer clear savings potentials in the following areas:

Reduced investments in equipment, floor-space and cassettes
Avoidance of unnecessary traffic reduces load on MES and AMHS systems
Much faster wafer access time reduces waiting times
Highly improved wafer storage quality with Micro Cleanroom technology and N2 purging
Different systems for 200mm and 300mm wafers with different capacity up to 2,700 wafers
Seamless integration into fab control systems and 100% single wafer history tracking

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