The Cleaning Process of Semiconductors

The Cleaning Process of Semiconductors

Cleaning semiconductors is a crucial part of manufacturing these high-tech components, ensuring that wafers are free from contaminants that could impact their performance. Here’s a detailed look at how it’s done:


Step 1: Initial Cleaning

  • Preliminary Rinse: The first step involves rinsing the semiconductor wafers with deionized (DI) water to wash away loose particles and initial surface contaminants.
  • Organic Solvent Cleaning: Next, the wafers are soaked in organic solvents like acetone or isopropyl alcohol. This helps dissolve and remove organic residues such as oils, grease, and leftover photoresist.

Step 2: Oxide Removal

  • HF Dip: Hydrofluoric acid (HF) is used to strip the native oxide layer from the silicon wafer surface. Removing this oxide is essential because it can interfere with later processing steps.
  • Buffered Oxide Etch (BOE): Sometimes, a buffered oxide etch solution (a mix of HF and ammonium fluoride) is used for more controlled oxide removal.

Step 3: Particle Removal


  • Megasonic Cleaning: High-frequency sound waves (megasonics) in a cleaning solution help dislodge and remove particles from the wafer surface. The sound waves create tiny bubbles that implode, effectively cleaning the surface.
  • Brush Scrubbing: Soft brushes, along with DI water or a mild cleaning solution, are used to physically scrub the wafer surface, removing stubborn particles.

Step 4: Chemical Cleaning

  • RCA Clean: This two-step chemical cleaning process was developed by the RCA Corporation:
    • RCA-1 (Standard Clean 1): Wafers are soaked in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), ammonia (NH4OH), and DI water. This step removes organic contaminants and particles.
    • RCA-2 (Standard Clean 2): Next, wafers are soaked in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), hydrochloric acid (HCl), and DI water to remove metallic contaminants.
  • Piranha Clean: For heavy organic contamination, wafers are immersed in a mix of sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). This potent mixture is very effective at removing organic residues and also oxidizes and removes metals.

Step 5:Final Rinse and Drying


  • Final DI Rinse: Wafers undergo a thorough rinse with DI water to remove any remaining chemicals from the cleaning steps.
  • Spin Rinse Dryer (SRD): Wafers are spun at high speeds while being rinsed with DI water. They are then dried using a combination of spinning and nitrogen gas (N2) blow.
  • Marangoni Drying: This technique uses IPA vapor to create a surface tension gradient, which helps dry the wafers without leaving watermarks or stains.

Step 6:Quality Control


  • Inspection: Cleaned wafers are inspected using various methods, including optical microscopy and surface particle counters, to ensure they are free from contaminants and defects.
  • Metrology: Parameters like surface roughness and particle count are measured to make sure the wafers meet the required cleanliness standards.

Why Cleaning is Important

  • Performance: Contaminants can cause defects in semiconductor devices, affecting their performance and reliability.
  • Yield: Effective cleaning processes are essential for maximizing the number of functional devices produced from each wafer.
  • Longevity: Clean wafers contribute to the longevity and stability of the semiconductor devices.

In summary, the cleaning process for semiconductors is a delicate balance of removing contaminants while avoiding damage to the wafer surface. Advanced techniques and stringent protocols ensure that semiconductors are prepared to meet the high standards required for modern electronic devices.

What Can Msr-Fsr Do For You?

MSR-FSR LLC. is a leading developer and supplier of critical subsystems, components and parts, and ultra-high purity cleaning and analytical services primarily for the semiconductor industry. Under its Products Division, MSR-FSR offers its customers an integrated outsourced solution for major subassemblies, improved design-to-delivery cycle times, design for manufactur ability, prototyping, advanced flow control solutions, and high-precision manufacturing. Under its Services Division, MSR-FSR offers its customers tool chamber parts cleaning and coating, as well as micro-contamination analytical services.