The wind of the semiconductor industry has arrived, and the policy environment is favorable for domestic semiconductor equipment companies. In the process of the transfer of the global semiconductor industry to the mainland, the localization of semiconductor equipment is of great strategic significance.
What is the etching machine used for?
The etching machine, as the name suggests, corresponds to the “etching” step in chip manufacturing.
In chip manufacturing, “photolithography” and “etching” are two closely linked steps and are also very critical steps. “Photolithography” is equivalent to “drawing” the circuit diagram on the wafer by projection. Note that at this time, the circuit diagram is not actually drawn on the wafer, but on the photoresist on the wafer surface. The photoresist surface is photoresist, a light-sensitive material that dissolves when exposed to light. The “etching” is the pattern developed along the surface of the photoresist, and the circuit pattern is engraved on the wafer.
Chip carving knife! Semiconductor equipment etching machines are at the forefront of domestic substitution. In chip manufacturing, there are three core links, namely thin film deposition, lithography and etching. Etching is the process of selectively etching or stripping the surface of the substrate or the film covering the surface by chemical or physical methods, thereby forming a circuit pattern defined by photolithography.
Among them, lithography is the most complex, critical, costly and time-consuming link; the cost of etching is second only to lithography, and its importance is also rising; and thin film deposition is also an essential and important process. In order to realize the layered structure of large-scale integrated circuits, it is necessary to repeat the process of deposition-etching-deposition.
The acceleration of advanced semiconductor processes has increased the requirements for etching equipment
Etching technology has undergone many changes with the development of silicon wafer manufacturing technology. The earliest cylindrical etching machines were simple and could only perform limited control.
Modern plasma etchers can generate high-density plasma, have independent RF power sources for plasma generation and silicon wafer plus bias voltage, endpoint monitoring, gas pressure and flow control, and integrate software to control etching parameters.
With the development of high-end mass-produced chips in the world from 14nm to 10nm to 7nm, 5nm or even smaller, the immersion lithography machines commonly used in the market are limited by the wavelength of light, and the key dimensions cannot meet the requirements. Multiple template processes must be used. , using the etching process to achieve a smaller size, which further enhances the importance of the etching technology and related equipment.
The figure below shows the principle of the 10nm multi-template process, which involves multiple etchings.
Domestic etching equipment is expected to break through international monopoly
Among the three core equipment of wafer processing thin film deposition equipment, lithography machine and etching machine, the etching machine has the highest localization rate, and the rate is increasing year by year and the speed is the fastest. According to estimates, by 2020, the domestic rate of domestic etching machines will reach 20%. In addition to the United States and Japan, China has gradually become the world’s third largest supplier of semiconductor equipment. At present, China has 34 equipment suppliers, mainly concentrated in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang.
Etching machine is one of the most important equipment for chip manufacturing and micro-processing. It uses plasma etching technology to etch micro-circuits on silicon wafers with active chemicals. The 7nm process is equivalent to one ten thousandth of the diameter of a human hair, which is the smallest integrated circuit wiring spacing that humans can manufacture on a large production line, which is close to the microscopic processing limit. Although there is still a gap between my country’s semiconductor equipment industry and international leaders, we can see that the domestic semiconductor equipment industry has made a qualitative leap in terms of environment, downstream demand, and R&D strength.
Compared with the field of lithography machines, China’s level in the field of semiconductor etching equipment is still very good, at least in terms of technology, it has approached or even reached the international leading level. In the future, under the background of localization of memory and the blessing of the second phase of the National Fund, the field of domestic etching will make great achievements. According to industry stakeholders, the domestic production rate in the field of etching machines will reach 50% in the future, and the domestic production rate in the MOCVD field will reach 70% in the future. Therefore, domestic etching equipment suppliers are expected to break through the international monopoly.