GRENOBLE, FRANCE: CEA-Leti and Edwards, a leading supplier of vacuum technology and abatement systems, have demonstrated an energy-saving controller system for subfabs that automatically puts process-support equipment in idle mode when fab processes are not running.
The system indirectly monitors the activity of the process tool and signals the tool’s sub-systems, vacuum pumps and abatement system to go into standby during non-process time.
The system was successfully tested for reliability and energy savings on two tools at CEA-Leti and showed a 75 percent reduction in fuel and water use when the abatement system was in idle mode. Based on the results, Edwards will develop and launch a new energy-saving system for fab operators this year.
The project was begun after Leti engineers, as part of their involvement in sustainability and green microelectronics, discovered that vacuum pumps and abatement systems in their subfab consumed the same amount of energy whether or not the process tools were working, because there is generally no direct communication on the tool status with the subfab.
Leti and Edwards, for whom energy efficiency is a key research topic, launched a one- year co-development program in January 2010 to develop a controller system capable of monitoring indirectly the status of the process tool and signaling for the process pumps and abatement system to go into idle mode.
Edwards’ latest-generation pumps and abatement systems are specifically designed to maximize energy savings by allowing process tools or factory automation systems to automatically switch among various low-energy (Green Mode) or high-performance operating modes to match the real-time requirements of the process.
The co-developed system at Leti uses information from both the load lock and process pumps to determine the process status of the tool and thus can provide a signal for standby control to the subfab abatement equipment with configurable thresholds and wait times.