Transport Platform aids pilot production of MEMS devices.

Press Release Summary:



Featuring Brooks Marathon Express(TM) MX400 as backbone, VPX provides automation platform to service up to 3 STS plasma process modules with single-vacuum 25-wafer cassette. System offers non-contact optical in-line wafer alignment and handles wafers from 100-200 mm. It includes OEM DeviceNet control communications, Windows GUI, and PLC module control. VPX is suited to pilot production markets in fabs and foundries where manufacturers are introducing new device technology.



Original Press Release:



Surface Technology Systems Launches VPX In-line Transport Platform



New Addition Extends Product Offering to Meet Varying Customer Business Models

NEWPORT, WALES, United Kingdom, Jan. 23 -- Surface Technology Systems plc (STS) , a leader in plasma process technologies required in the manufacturing and packaging of MEMS and advanced electronic devices, today announced the launch of VPX, a new platform that enables up to three process chambers to share a low-cost, common wafer- transport system. Designed to reduce the cost for pilot production of devices used in developing end markets such as fuel cells and MEMS automotive sensors, VPX complements the full suite of platforms that support STS' range of advanced process modules. The introduction of VPX continues STS' successful strategy of supplying a range of platforms that can be coupled to any of their advanced process modules to meet varying customer business models and changes in wafer capacity.

VPX provides an automation platform to service up to three STS plasma process modules with a single-vacuum 25-wafer cassette, offering a low-cost clustered processing system whilst maintaining very high standards in terms of handling accuracy and wafer-transport integrity, as well as improved productivity, production-proven hardware and ease of maintenance. VPX is particularly well-suited to pilot production markets in fabs and foundries where manufacturers are introducing new device technology from their R&D laboratories.

Building on an extensive experience of manufacturing systems for pilot production, and with an installed base of over 1000 etch and PECVD systems over 10 years, STS has chosen the Brooks Marathon Express(TM) MX400 automation platform as the backbone of the new system, as it shares over 90% of the components already used in CPX, STS' volume production cluster system, launched in September 2005.

"Utilising Brooks' MX400 automation has enabled STS to release the new VPX platform in record time, a development that further extends our product range to meet our customers' evolving needs," observed Leslie Lea, Chief Technology Officer at STS. "By developing both the CPX and VPX platforms around a single supplier we have been able to reduce the organisation's holistic costs, both in development and supply, allowing us to pass these cost savings on to our customers. We believe the VPX is a top-notch solution offered at a very competitive price point."

"STS has already taken multiple orders for VPX systems from major companies in the US who are in the first stages of production of new device technologies," added Dr. David Haynes, STS Director of Sales and Marketing. "We firmly believe that the new tool, coupled with our leading edge process technologies, such as Advanced Silicon Etch (ASE(R)) and Advanced Oxide Etch (AOE(TM)), considerably strengthens our position in our served markets, offering scalability between platforms to meet the exacting requirements and investment cycles of existing and potential customers."

Key VPX features
o High productivity
-- Brooks MAG7 with FrogLeg(TM) arm set
-- Three available process facets
o High specification platform
-- Single vacuum cassette with wafer mapping
-- Non-contact optical in-line wafer alignment
-- 100mm - 200mm wafer sizes
o Flexibility with integration of all STS advanced process modules
-- Pegasus (DRIE)
-- ICP (DRIE/general etch)
-- APS (Oxide/Nitride/SiC)
-- PECVD
o State-of-the-art design concepts
-- Module on-board control hardware
-- OEM deviceNet control communications
-- Windows GUI
-- PLC module control
-- Single-point common house facilities hook-up

Key VPX benefits
o Greater productivity over existing MACS
-- Average 230% with single module
-- Average 360% with two modules
-- Average 450% with three modules
o Excellent wafer transport integrity
-- Vacuum cassettes
-- MAG7 robot and low contact end-effector
o Production proven hardware
-- Shared high-specification integration technology with volume production CPX
-- Brooks Marathon Express(R) MX400 wafer transport module
-- Extends on knowledge gained in the shipment of over 1000 Etch and PECVD systems since 1990
-- STS proven PLC and DeviceNet control system
-- Extends introduction of new process technology into production
o Process modules integrate with all STS existing R&D and pilot production wafer transport suite of products
o Fast, easy maintenance turnaround
-- Simplified packaging
-- Reduced cabling
-- Modular design concept

About Surface Technology Systems plc
STS designs and manufactures a range of highly specialized systems incorporating innovative technology used in the production of semiconductors and related devices and is a leader in plasma based etch and deposition technologies for processing non "mainstream" semiconductor devices. STS serves a range of applications in several emerging sectors within the telecommunications, data storage, advanced packaging, MEMS and Nanotechnology.

STS is the market leader in deep silicon etching for the growing MEMS market, offering patent-protected technology. In addition, STS has a strong presence in each of its other served markets and distributes its process solutions worldwide through an experienced sales and service operation. The Group currently markets in over 30 countries and has an installed base of over 850 systems. For more information about STS please see http://www.stsystems.com/

CONTACT: Michelle Bourke of Surface Technology Systems, (+44) 1633 652400 or michelle.bourke@stsystems.co.uk

Web site: http://www.stsystems.com/

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