Addressing CMP Slurry Market Drivers with the OPTIPLANE™ Platform, Part 2 of 2

September 13,2016

Interview with Adam Manzonie, Global Slurry Business Director for CMP Technologies

A Dow engineer uses metrology tools to evaluate the performance of Dow’s CMP slurries in the lab

We recently met up with Adam Manzonie, Global Slurry Business Director, CMP Technologies, Dow Electronic Materials, to discuss the market drivers that led to the introduction of the business’ new OPTIPLANE™ CMP slurry platform. Read part one of this interview to learn more about how the business identified a need for this advanced family of slurries. In part two, we’ll pick up where we left off, and talk more about the product’s commercialization.

Q: Last time we talked, you mentioned pairing pads and slurries for optimal performance. Can you explain more about the relationship between CMP slurries and pads?
A: There’s an interaction between the pad and the slurry—and the wafer—and we have been able to leverage our understanding of the interaction in how we design pads and how we designed the OPTIPLANE slurry platform to maximize the pad life, the cost of ownership of the slurry and the CMP process. The way the interaction manifests itself is in process stability across the wafer, and from wafer to wafer. Our expertise in slurry and pads allows us to make sure we provide customers with an optimal starting point in their process. This will mean reduced qualification time and expense in the short term and excellent process stability through the life of the consumable set.

Q: When changing to a new slurry formulation, does a manufacturer need to change their pad type, or can OPTIPLANE slurries be used with existing polishing pads?
A: We’d like to set our customers up with the best matched slurry and pad combination, which might entail changing pad type at the same time. We’ve found that there are unique synergies that can be realized for the best performance through a combination of pad, slurry and process diagnostics. That optimization improves cost of ownership. Paired with the right pad, you can actually reduce the amount of CMP that’s necessary for a given layer, which means you’re reducing the amount of polish time, which reduces the amount of slurry used and lengthens pad life. It even impacts the amount of film that needs to be deposited in subsequent steps.

We can absolutely offer OPTIPLANE with existing pads, but I like to tell customers that if you’re going to change a slurry, you should evaluate the whole CMP process. A single change represents a significant qualification effort, a proposition that can cost upwards of $1 million. Rather than only look at one piece of the process, make sure you optimize your entire process during a requalification.

Q: Can CMP slurry materials be made more sustainable or even recycled? There’s a lot of fluid involved in the process.
A: Sustainability is something that we’re always thinking about in developing new solutions. One thing we’ve been able to engineer into OPTIPLANE slurry is the concept of concentration. For example, the OPTIPLANE 2118 slurry is used in the 4-6 percent solids range, but we sell it in a 24 percent solids formulation that customers dilute. We’re using and shipping a lot less water and our customers will enjoy reduced material handling and storage needs.

Customers have been trying to implement recycling for a long time, but it poses many challenges. Once a slurry is used, it becomes difficult to recycle especially where complex additives are involved. But the treatment of a waste stream that includes fewer solids is going to be a lot easier than if the nanoparticle solids were at 20 or 30 percent. If you’re doing the same work with a 6 percent solids slurry, you’re putting a lot less nanoparticle waste into the environment.

Some of the other platform benefits we’ve discussed come into play here as well. We’re designing pads and slurries that will extend pad lifetime, improve process stability, and improve yield, and we’re always interested in helping our customers optimize their processes. Longer lifetime and less waste certainly offer a sustainability benefit.

Q: OPTIPLANE has been introduced as a new platform. Could you say more about what products are available in this family, and where they stand in the development process?
A: We’re leading with OPTIPLANE 2118, which is what you could call a traditional inter-layer dielectric (ILD) polish, targeted at 45nm and below. OPTIPLANE 2118 is commercially available today. There will also be other formulations introduced in the 2000 series and customers using this slurry will see continuous improvements in cost and performance year over year.

We are in development for additional lines in the OPTIPLANE family. The OPTIPLANE 1000 series is a colloidal silica based shallow trench isolation (STI) solution that will also provide options for the very front end of the process, especially in FinFET integration. That requires quite a bit more interactive development with the customers. It’s a matter of collaborating with customers to create a very specific formulation.

The OPTIPLANE 3000 series will be targeted more toward polysilicon polishes. For both the 1000 and 3000 series, we are currently sending engineering samples to customers.

Q: Going from the lab to real customers with higher volumes isn’t always a smooth transition. Are you hearing from customers that the performance matches what it looks like in the lab?
A: Yes. The true measure of performance is always feedback from our customers. Customer feedback really tells a story, and for OPTIPLANE, it has conveyed that the product scales across multiple polishers, as well as multiple batches of pads and conditioners. In addition, the people component—that is to say, all of the different operators—has also been indicative of success. Our largest customers don’t produce a few wafers in a lab under the best-case conditions; they produce millions of wafers, with hundreds of millions of die that all have to individually function and yield at the highest possible level. The feedback that we’re receiving from these customers is showing success at scale; and we feel confident that we’re helping customers achieve their goals.

Q: What has customer response been to the OPTIPLANE slurry products?
A: This is a relatively new product to market, so we’re still in the process of building that portion of our business, but the response so far has been good. We’re actively engaged with multiple customers at 28nm and below and performance is meeting or exceeding customer expectations.

Q: Can you say anything else about the future of the platform?
A: The long-term vision for the OPTIPLANE platform is to provide customers with slurries from STI all the way through the front end. We have this laid out in a clear roadmap for continuous development and improvement. The targets of that development are process capability consistent with customer needs and continuously driving down cost. What we are seeing in the industry is more and more CMP, not less. It’s part of our responsibility to help customers drive those costs down so they can remain profitable with their businesses.

The OPTIPLANE™ CMP slurry family is home to Dow’s most advanced slurries for dielectric CMP applications. Learn more about our complete portfolio of pads and slurries for CMP.

A Dow engineer uses metrology tools to evaluate the performance of Dow’s CMP slurries in the lab

We recently met up with Adam Manzonie, Global Slurry Business Director, CMP Technologies, Dow Electronic Materials, to discuss the market drivers that led to the introduction of the business’ new OPTIPLANE™ CMP slurry platform. Read part one of this interview to learn more about how the business identified a need for this advanced family of slurries. In part two, we’ll pick up where we left off, and talk more about the product’s commercialization.

Q: Last time we talked, you mentioned pairing pads and slurries for optimal performance. Can you explain more about the relationship between CMP slurries and pads?
A: There’s an interaction between the pad and the slurry—and the wafer—and we have been able to leverage our understanding of the interaction in how we design pads and how we designed the OPTIPLANE slurry platform to maximize the pad life, the cost of ownership of the slurry and the CMP process. The way the interaction manifests itself is in process stability across the wafer, and from wafer to wafer. Our expertise in slurry and pads allows us to make sure we provide customers with an optimal starting point in their process. This will mean reduced qualification time and expense in the short term and excellent process stability through the life of the consumable set.

Q: When changing to a new slurry formulation, does a manufacturer need to change their pad type, or can OPTIPLANE slurries be used with existing polishing pads?
A: We’d like to set our customers up with the best matched slurry and pad combination, which might entail changing pad type at the same time. We’ve found that there are unique synergies that can be realized for the best performance through a combination of pad, slurry and process diagnostics. That optimization improves cost of ownership. Paired with the right pad, you can actually reduce the amount of CMP that’s necessary for a given layer, which means you’re reducing the amount of polish time, which reduces the amount of slurry used and lengthens pad life. It even impacts the amount of film that needs to be deposited in subsequent steps.

We can absolutely offer OPTIPLANE with existing pads, but I like to tell customers that if you’re going to change a slurry, you should evaluate the whole CMP process. A single change represents a significant qualification effort, a proposition that can cost upwards of $1 million. Rather than only look at one piece of the process, make sure you optimize your entire process during a requalification.

Q: Can CMP slurry materials be made more sustainable or even recycled? There’s a lot of fluid involved in the process.
A: Sustainability is something that we’re always thinking about in developing new solutions. One thing we’ve been able to engineer into OPTIPLANE slurry is the concept of concentration. For example, the OPTIPLANE 2118 slurry is used in the 4-6 percent solids range, but we sell it in a 24 percent solids formulation that customers dilute. We’re using and shipping a lot less water and our customers will enjoy reduced material handling and storage needs.

Customers have been trying to implement recycling for a long time, but it poses many challenges. Once a slurry is used, it becomes difficult to recycle especially where complex additives are involved. But the treatment of a waste stream that includes fewer solids is going to be a lot easier than if the nanoparticle solids were at 20 or 30 percent. If you’re doing the same work with a 6 percent solids slurry, you’re putting a lot less nanoparticle waste into the environment.

Some of the other platform benefits we’ve discussed come into play here as well. We’re designing pads and slurries that will extend pad lifetime, improve process stability, and improve yield, and we’re always interested in helping our customers optimize their processes. Longer lifetime and less waste certainly offer a sustainability benefit.

Q: OPTIPLANE has been introduced as a new platform. Could you say more about what products are available in this family, and where they stand in the development process?
A: We’re leading with OPTIPLANE 2118, which is what you could call a traditional inter-layer dielectric (ILD) polish, targeted at 45nm and below. OPTIPLANE 2118 is commercially available today. There will also be other formulations introduced in the 2000 series and customers using this slurry will see continuous improvements in cost and performance year over year.

We are in development for additional lines in the OPTIPLANE family. The OPTIPLANE 1000 series is a colloidal silica based shallow trench isolation (STI) solution that will also provide options for the very front end of the process, especially in FinFET integration. That requires quite a bit more interactive development with the customers. It’s a matter of collaborating with customers to create a very specific formulation.

The OPTIPLANE 3000 series will be targeted more toward polysilicon polishes. For both the 1000 and 3000 series, we are currently sending engineering samples to customers.

Q: Going from the lab to real customers with higher volumes isn’t always a smooth transition. Are you hearing from customers that the performance matches what it looks like in the lab?
A: Yes. The true measure of performance is always feedback from our customers. Customer feedback really tells a story, and for OPTIPLANE, it has conveyed that the product scales across multiple polishers, as well as multiple batches of pads and conditioners. In addition, the people component—that is to say, all of the different operators—has also been indicative of success. Our largest customers don’t produce a few wafers in a lab under the best-case conditions; they produce millions of wafers, with hundreds of millions of die that all have to individually function and yield at the highest possible level. The feedback that we’re receiving from these customers is showing success at scale; and we feel confident that we’re helping customers achieve their goals.

Q: What has customer response been to the OPTIPLANE slurry products?
A: This is a relatively new product to market, so we’re still in the process of building that portion of our business, but the response so far has been good. We’re actively engaged with multiple customers at 28nm and below and performance is meeting or exceeding customer expectations.

Q: Can you say anything else about the future of the platform?
A: The long-term vision for the OPTIPLANE platform is to provide customers with slurries from STI all the way through the front end. We have this laid out in a clear roadmap for continuous development and improvement. The targets of that development are process capability consistent with customer needs and continuously driving down cost. What we are seeing in the industry is more and more CMP, not less. It’s part of our responsibility to help customers drive those costs down so they can remain profitable with their businesses.

The OPTIPLANE™ CMP slurry family is home to Dow’s most advanced slurries for dielectric CMP applications. Learn more about our complete portfolio of pads and slurries for CMP.