Semiconductors are extremely sensitive materials. So without a controlled cleanroom to manufacture the chips in, you risk contamination that could lead to various production issues and product failures.
If your facility manufactures semiconductor chips for computerized devices of any type, size, or application, you’ll need a semiconductor manufacturing cleanroom. Let’s take a look at what components and considerations go into designing one.
Where to Start: Understanding the Requirements of a Semiconductor Cleanroom
Even the slightest bit of contamination or settling of particulate produce can ruin semiconductor production and performance, sometimes leading to disastrous consequences. Therefore, it’s important to understand the strict cleanliness standards that semiconductor cleanrooms must abide by.
Semiconductor Cleanroom Classifications
Even the slightest bit of contamination or settling of airborne particles can compromise semiconductor manufacturing efforts — leading to costly product defects. So before you get started designing your semiconductor manufacturing cleanroom, you should gain a thorough understanding of the threats they’re faced with and the cleanliness standards they must abide by.
Semiconductor Manufacturing Threats
When working in a semiconductor manufacturing cleanroom, operators face a number of challenges regarding detailed processes and contamination control. In fact, human workers themselves are often the main source of contamination during the semiconductor manufacturing process. Aside from particulate matter from their bodies and clothing, they can create unwanted electro-static discharge (ESD) that can ruin electronic circuits in the material.
Other than that, there are a number of additional environmental threats that can disrupt the semiconductor manufacturing process:
- Airborne particles
- Power glitches
- Pressure malfunctions
- Equipment outgassing
- Dropped equipment, tools, and parts
Yes — that’s a lot to keep in mind! But semiconductors are so fragile that even the tiniest speck of dust can destroy them.
Fortunately, a reliable, controlled cleanroom can do most of the work for you. When designed, built, and installed properly, your semiconductor manufacturing cleanroom can maintain the level of environmental control you need to optimize productivity and profitability.
When You’re Ready: 4 Steps to Designing a Semiconductor Manufacturing Cleanroom
Now that you’re aware of the threats your semiconductor manufacturing cleanroom faces and the standards it needs to meet to prevent them, it’s time to start on design. Below we’ve outlined four considerations you’ll want to keep in mind during the design process.
1. Start with Cleanroom Airflow & Air Filtration
Airflow and air filtration are two of the most important aspects of great semiconductor manufacturing cleanroom design. They both determine how many airborne particles travel into your cleanroom and how they’re prevented from building up on equipment and materials. Let’s break them down one by one.
ISO 14644-4 describes recommended cleanroom airflow patterns at various classification levels. The most popular (and widely recommended) airflow pattern is unidirectional, or laminar. It involves air blown at a constant speed in a straight and unimpeded path. The air is pushed through a filter (usually in the cleanroom ceiling) and then directed down toward the floor. To reduce turbulence, some semiconductor cleanrooms have raised flooring that use perforated tiles that allow air to flow through holes where it can be retreated and filtered before entering the cleanroom again.
Cleanroom Air Filtration
Cleanroom air filtration is all about how many airborne particles, and of which sizes, are permitted within a cleanroom. Regulations for this are documented in the ISO 14644-1 classification system.
Airborne particles are controlled with specialized air filtration systems, such as HEPA and ULPA filters. You can learn more about these systems and how they work on our air filtration page.
2. Consider Cleanroom Furniture and Machinery Placement
Semiconductor manufacturing requires various types of furniture, machinery, and equipment. It’s a good idea to map out where these items will be placed in order to produce the most efficient airflow patterns.
One of the best recommendations for semiconductor manufacturing cleanroom design is to place large furniture, machinery, and equipment along the outer walls. This helps decrease the chance of those big objects obstructing the main airflow.
Many cleanrooms are also designed with wire racks and shelves instead of regular shelving. This eliminates a portion of flat surfaces that contaminants can build up on.
3. Implement Anti-Static Protection
Electro-static discharge (ESD) can ruin semiconductors’ conductive properties. To prevent ESD, your semiconductor manufacturing cleanroom must take preventative measures. Cleanroom wall panels, flooring, furniture, and more should be manufactured with static dissipative materials. You may also include various ESD-free products like clothing, tools, and cleaning materials.
4. Plan For Daily Operations
In order to keep production moving and meet consumer demands, your semiconductor manufacturing cleanroom will likely be used daily. It’s important to design the cleanroom in a way that fits your operational plan. Make sure to note the following:
- How your operators enter and exit the cleanroom
- What ESD tests, gowning regimens, airlock rooms, and air showers your operators need to pass through before entry
- How your operators move from task to task within the cleanroom
- How often your operators need to clean the cleanroom, and what that process looks like
This information will help ensure your cleanroom is designed to maximize efficiency and cleanliness — which leads to better production quality, safety, and profitability.
Design a Semiconductor Manufacturing Cleanroom with Angstrom Technology
Need help getting started on your semiconductor manufacturing cleanroom design? Let the experts at Angstrom Technology help. Our design team can help you make the tough choices and ensure you get the robust solution that’s perfect for your application.
Request a semiconductor manufacturing cleanroom quote today, or contact us for more information.