Pioneering the European electronics industry's efforts for sustainable
manufacturing of semiconductors, Linde Gases, a division of The
Linde Group, has installed Europe's first CE-marked on-site electronics
grade fluorine (F2) generator at STMicroelectronics' Crolles 300mm wafer
fabrication plant in France. As part of STMicroelectronics' initiative
to lower the environmental impact of producing semiconductors, high-pressure
cylinder F2 has been replaced by two new Linde Generation-F on-site fluorine
generators - providing a low pressure, fully redundant supply of high
purity F2 and eliminating the need to transport to and keep cylinders on site.
The Linde fluorine generators and ancillary equipment combine proven technology
with intrinsically safe design to provide STMicroelectronics an on-demand, safe
and highly reliable source of pure F2 for Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) chamber
cleaning. One cylinder of hydrogen fluoride (used as the source material for
the on-site generator) provides the same amount of F2 to the fab as 100 high
pressure F2 cylinders - significantly reducing maintenance workload, while
the very low system pressure provides much greater safety for all STMicroelectronics
"As operators of thermal CVD furnaces look to optimize costs and minimize
risk through stricter safety requirements, Linde is seeing a quicker pace of
adoption for on-site generated fluorine," said Greg Shuttleworth, Semiconductor
Product Manager for Linde Gases Division. "We are also seeing increasing
interest in using F2 as an alternative to NF3 for the cleaning of Plasma-Enhanced
CVD chambers due to concerns over the very high global warming potential of
NF3 and imminent legislation that could restrict its use."
"The installation of Europe's first on-site fluorine generators
at our Crolles wafer fabrication plant is testament to STMicroelectronics'
commitment to increasing safety and improving our eco-footprint," said
David Ferrand, Director of Facilities at the Crolles 200 and Crolles 300 fabs.
"We have directly reduced our carbon footprint at Crolles 300mm by eliminating
cylinder deliveries. We are excited by the potential for even greater environmental
efficiency by using the generation capacity in other cleaning applications."
Previously, every cylinder change was an opportunity for contamination of the
system, but now the STMicroelectronics Crolles 300mm facility has much greater
reliability of gas box components by eliminating these frequent changes. There
is also less hazardous waste as there is no need to purge cylinders to ensure
they are completely empty before changing, increasing savings and reducing the
load on STMicroelectronics' abatement systems.
The Linde Generation-F on-site fluorine generator has been through extensive
third-party safety evaluations and can now add the CE Mark to the SEMI S2 certificate
among its list of national and industry recognised safety standards. In addition
to the generators themselves, Linde's ancillary buffer and abatement systems,
which safely deliver variable amounts of fluorine, have also been CE-marked
and SEMI S2 certified. Including those at STMicroelectronics, Linde has supplied
and operates nearly 30 Generation-F systems worldwide to meet the semiconductor,
display and photovoltaic industries' chamber cleaning needs.
STMicroelectronics' programs to reduce the use of energy, water and chemicals
at all sites are the foundation of its longstanding eco-efficiency approach
to environmental stewardship. STMicroelectronics considers the management of
the chemicals it uses, along with climate change, as the most important environmental
issues, and has been reducing chemical consumption by more than five percent
a year, on average, since 1998.