Efficient Virtual Manufacturing for Micro and Nano Technologies (MNT)

Dirk Ortloff, Jens Popp, Process Relations GmbH
Corresponding author:

Despite the economic struggles in the last two years, the demand for micro and nano technologies (MNT) products has grown. To match this demand several factors have to be taken into account. On the one hand design cycles have to become shorter to meet the market needs. On the other hand specification requirements and the competition increase with each new product generation. To align both sides new and more efficient product engineering (PE) approaches as well as more effective virtual manufacturing is needed.

Other differentiating points in the MNT industry are the different application areas, the variety of technologies and the considerable number of small and medium companies. To survive in a market that becomes more competitive every day, a cooperative distributed development approach must be used by those market players. However, this introduces a new set of problems. The development of design and manufacturing steps for products using MNT are interdependent (i.e. manufacturing processes are generally application specific). This must be taken into account when developing new products together.

Furthermore for a comprehensive product engineering (PE) approach, the customer (as purchaser of the desired devices) has to have not only control over the specification and design flow. Additionally he wants to have fast turnaround times and an early idea of his potential future product. Therefore the customer needs to be carefully considered and the interactions with him interwoven into the product engineering process.

This paper presents an approach where improved virtual manufacturing capabilities are leveraged to give the customer an early idea of the manufactured device and involve him more deeply in the development process. Combining the different software approaches of Process Development Execution Systems (PDES), Technology CAD (TCAD) simulation capabilities and rapid virtual manufacturing tools allows easier communication between all stakeholders (e.g., process engineers, device engineers, customer). Together with a matching PE methodology a comprehensive development coordination between all involved parties and knowledge management are enabled by this approach. The integration model of all stakeholders is outlined in Figure 1 while the coverage of the value chain is indicated in Figure 2.

Figure 1. Hierarchical model of the MNT business

Combining software tools of the above mentioned categories has several advantages. The PDES can be used as a central and single frontend to the simulation/ emulation tools. It is able to perform simulations in parallel with different simulation approaches or even different simulators from the same source. Abstractions like tool dependent models allow the creation of complex simulator input files with a single button click. This approach has the additional advantage of enabling process engineers to use simulation tools without intimate knowledge of the simulator. As an example, a single, newly assembled manufacturing flow can be verified via a physical based TCAD simulation, e.g., Silvaco Victory, and by a voxel based approach like in Coventor's Semulator3D. Both results can be compared and new insight can be gained. This enables course grained simulation during initial iterations and more physical based simulation later in the process. This way virtual prototyping can be sped up and no media break occurs.

Figure 2. Supply chain and Business models in MNT

Further advantages of the integration approach are the comprehensive collection of process recipe information, simulation results and experimental results in the PDES. This allows to seamlessly iterate over all domains. Therefore optimization loops of the simulation, of the recipes etc. can be performed because the full context of a production process is available. This is ensured by the PDES tools covering the full development cycle indicated in Figure 3.

Figure 3. PDES Development cycle

A current research project (CORONA) funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework has supported the development of these improved PE and virtual manufacturing means.


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback