New MetaPULSE FP was developed to provide critical control of manufacturing processes needed to enhance yields and ensure product quality
Flanders, New Jersey - Rudolph Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: RTEC), a leading provider of process characterization equipment and software for microelectronic manufacturers, announced today that it has sold the first of its new MetaPULSE® FP thin film metrology systems to a major manufacturer of flat panel displays (FPD) for handheld mobile devices, such as tablets, electronic book "e-readers" and smart phones. The system uses Rudolph's proprietary PULSE(TM) Technology to measure the critical thickness of metal layers deposited during the manufacturing process, providing the precise process control needed to enhance process yields and product quality.
"The MetaPULSE FP system is a unique solution that allows for measurement of critical metal film thicknesses on actual product structures without contacting or destroying the device," said Dr. Avishai Kepten, vice president and general manager of Rudolph's Metrology Business Unit. "The first tool is being qualified on an R&D line, and we believe the capability will be indispensable as our customer ramps to high-volume production."
Picosecond Ultrasonic Laser Sonar (PULSE) technology's unique ability to provide non-contact, non-destructive, on-product measurements of single and multi-layered opaque thin films has allowed Rudolph to establish a market-leading position for FEOL (front-end-of-line) and BEOL (back-end-of-line) processes in semiconductor manufacturing. In the past year, Rudolph's Metrology Business Unit has worked with major manufacturers and process tool providers from the FPD and LED (light emitting diode) markets to develop PULSE-based solutions suited to the specific needs of these unique markets.
Rudolph's director of metrology product management, Tim Kryman, said, "For many years MetaPULSE technology has been the ideal solution for measuring the thickness and other properties of thin metal films in semiconductor manufacturing applications. The new FP system combines a MetaPULSE measurement head with customized glass substrate handling to extend this critical measurement capability to the much larger substrates used to make flat panels. This MetaPULSE FP tool was delivered and installed in the second quarter and is being used for measurements on 4.5 generation substrates (790mm by 930mm), which are used to make displays for e-readers, tablets, phones and other mobile devices. We are also in discussions with manufacturers of much larger panels used for television displays."
Today, most large FPD manufacturers use an active matrix technology that involves fabricating the thin-film transistors (TFT) in either amorphous or polycrystalline silicon applied to the rear of the glass, which is very similar to those used during semiconductor manufacturing. A typical TFT process includes the deposition of a series of gate metals such as Cr, Ta, Al, Mo, Ta, as well as deposition of Ti and/or Al source and data lines. Application studies for traditional and advanced FPD manufacturing processes have proven that PULSE is the only technology that can provide non-contact, non-destructive measurements of these metals, individually or in a multi-layered film stack, with gauge capability.
Process control of these layers is directly related to panel performance and process yield. With the development of the first MetaPULSE FP system, Rudolph engineers have successfully separated measurement and substrate handling functions.
"Ongoing development activity is focused on repackaging the PULSE measurement head with larger substrate handling to accommodate the full range of FPD sizes currently in production. Our goal is to provide this critical metal metrology for all generations of FPD manufacturing," adds Kepten.
Rudolph Technologies, Inc. is a worldwide leader in the design, development, manufacture and support of defect inspection, process control metrology, and data analysis systems and software used by semiconductor device manufacturers worldwide. Rudolph provides a full-fab solution through its families of proprietary products that provide critical yield-enhancing information, enabling microelectronic device manufacturers to drive down the costs and time to market of their products. The company's yield management solutions are used in both the wafer processing and final manufacturing of ICs, as well as in emerging markets such as FPD, LED and Solar. Headquartered in Flanders, New Jersey, Rudolph supports its customers with a worldwide sales and service organization. Additional information can be found on the company's web site at www.rudolphtech.com
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