European semiconductor sales amount to approximately €32 billion per year, representing 10 % of the global share. Progress is driven by the ability to operate at increasingly smaller scales and with greater complexity. A key challenge facing the industry is production loss due to Airborne Molecular Contamination (AMC) in the form of vapours and aerosols, which can corrode metal surfaces and form contamination layers during microscale manufacturing processes. Existing monitoring instrumentation is often deficient, and since 1997 there have been 24 major production losses due to AMC, each with a value of up to €80 million.
This project will develop new spectroscopic techniques and reference materials to measure priority AMCs (HCl and NH3) at lower concentrations (<1 nmol/mol) and faster rates (<1 minute), than is currently possible. It will also investigate typical AMC monitoring scenarios and improve system robustness and transportability. By developing techniques for timely and reliable AMC detection, this project will enable semiconductor manufacturers to make corrective actions before production yields are affected.