The German government has set the aim of achieving a completely climate-neutral economy by 2045, generating about 80% of gross electricity consumption with renewable energies. In order to realise these aims, highly efficient semiconductors are needed, which as components control, regulate and measure a multitude of processes.
The CiS Research Institute develops innovative MEMS and MOEMS sensors for applications in environmental technologies, climate protection, medical technology, process monitoring and quantum technologies. Their production largely requires energy-intensive processes within the value chain from the starting material silicon to the finished sensor.
The CiS Research Institute was able to invest in a modern, latest-generation high-temperature facility with the support of the state of Thuringia and co-financing from funds from the European Union for Regional Development (ERDF) and REACT-EU. The plant with many technical innovations is characterised by a high degree of flexibility both for series production and for research and development.
In addition to the usual temperature measurement in the outer area, special, high-temperature-stable thermocouples also measure the temperature directly in the inner area of the furnace tubes. Particularly in the area of process development, this is necessary for precise parameter recording in order to both work out process steps in detail and later transfer them to other plants. At the same time, this redundant procedure is an internal process safeguard.
Another innovation is the automatic pressure compensation to the ambient pressure. A layer thickness compensation is calculated from this in real time. Fluctuations in the ambient pressure (caused by fluctuations in the weather and the slow regulation of the climate system) can thus be compensated. For example, 1.7% change in ambient pressure usually leads to 1% change in oxide layer thickness. An automatic leakage test guarantees safety against leakage with process gases and, at the same time, lower gas consumption and less back diffusion.
Automatic loading of the system in advance increases work safety and efficiency. Process chambers are no longer put into standby mode, thus preventing long heating phases. In addition, new environmentally friendly chemicals that are neither corrosive nor harmful to health are used for cleaning processes.
All these points flow into the energy balance and support energy-efficient and low-emission process technology. The investment measure directly supports us in retaining qualified employees through a modern working environment and makes a decisive contribution to consumption-optimised process management of energy-intensive semiconductor technologies.
The project is part of RIS3 Thuringia’s specialisation field of sustainable energy and resource use.