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University of Warwick Turns to Inseto for a Probe Station to Evaluate ‘Next Generation’ Silicon Carbide Power Semiconductors

22nd September 2020

Andover, United Kingdom Inseto, a leading technical distributor of equipment and materials, has supplied the University of Warwick with a SemiProbe PS4L probe system for developing fabrication processes for next generation silicon-carbide (SiC) power semiconductor devices. The PS4L provides an accurate and repeatable means of mechanically interfacing fabricated prototype devices – as die or still on the wafer – with an analyser that can inject thousands of volts and measure hundreds of amps.

Silicon Carbide Probe Station for testing wafers and devices with high voltage and current
SemiProbe PS4L-SA – Silicon Carbide Wafer Probe Station at Warwick University

Dr Peter Gammon, Associate Professor (Reader) in SiC Power Electronics at the University of Warwick, comments: “We’re involved in a number of projects that are pushing the boundaries of silicon carbide power device research that will hopefully lead to the volume manufacture of device types that can currently only be fabricated in silicon. The PS4L is an invaluable tool in our endeavours as not only can it handle the high power from/to the analyser, but it is semi-automated, allowing us to collect a large amount of data from highly repeatable tests.”

Dr Gammon goes on say that most commercially available SiC power devices are unipolar structures, such as diodes and MOSFETs, which are well established and commercially available with high voltage ratings.

“We’re looking beyond these though, at bipolar devices that include IGBTs and thyristors because they will further enable highly efficient and ultra-high voltage applications, such as traction inverters and high voltage direct current in a low carbon society,” says Dr Gammon. “For example, silicon IGBTs are typically rated up to about 2,000V. As part of our work with the EPSRC Centre for Power Electronics, we are today producing silicon carbide IGBTs rated to 10,000V, with scope to go to 30,000V in the future.”

The PS4L is enabling Dr Gammon’s team to apply voltages of up to 10,000V and measure currents of up to 100A to confirm the performance and breakdown voltages of their devices. He says: “While we’re heading towards the production of IGBT and MOSFET switches, we’re able to do much of our work on simple structures such as diodes, in order to evaluate the repeatability of our fabrication processes.”

Following the supply and commissioning of the SemiProbe equipment, a software interface was written by Dr Gammon’s team to enable the PS4L and the high voltage parameter analyser to work together. “Both OEMs were incredibly supportive and gave us access to the source code of their respective products,” notes Dr Gammon.

The equipment is in use at the University of Warwick, one of only a few universities in the UK with SiC fabrication capabilities, and it has already enabled Dr Gammon’s team to capture data from larger test batches than would have otherwise been practical before. Also, there is more confidence in the data collected through automated processing, as it removes the discrepancies of manually obtained data, such as probe tip to pad alignment inconsistences and variations in contact force.

Dr Gammon, concludes: “Our new equipment represents a real game changer and the support Inseto provided has been exemplary throughout the entire process, from them understanding our requirements through to ensuring the PS4L was fit for purpose now and in the future.”

Inseto is exclusive distributor for SemiProbe in UK, Ireland and Northern Europe.

MAIN ENDS

About the PEATER Group at the University of Warwick

Established in 2005, the Power Electronics Applications and Technology in Energy Research (PEATER) group, located in Warwick’s School of Engineering is the UK’s leading research group into silicon carbide (SiC) power electronics. They have an international reputation for research into SiC power devices, with expertise that extends from atoms to systems, covering fundamental materials research, device simulation and optimisation, fabrication, characterisation, packaging and reliability testing. Their unique array of facilities include a dedicated SiC fabrication cleanroom, a SiC CVD system for epitaxial growth, a packaging cleanroom and multiple servers for TCAD modelling.

The PEATER group specialises in taking SiC into new and exciting application spaces. They are working on scaling up the voltage of SiC power devices, working on Schottky and PiN diodes, MOSFETs and IGBTS rated from 3.3 to 10 kV, for applications ranging from HVDC, traction and renewable energy storage and distribution. They are also working to produce the first radiation-hard SiC power devices that will be able to survive in the harsh environment of space, for telecommunication satellites. Meanwhile, the research group continues to work with major international companies on the roll out of existing SiC power solutions, particularly within the automotive sector.

For further information, please visit https://go.warwick.ac.uk/peater

For further information please visit: www.inseto.co.uk. Download a PDF copy of this news release HERE.

Wire and Ribbon Bonded “Battery Connections”

11th September 2020

A great technical article highlighting the considerable benefits wire and ribbon bonders deliver in #batterypack volume production scenarios recently published in Future Vehicle and their #battery technology supplement.

Download a copy here: https://www.inseto.co.uk/make_the_connection_technical-article/

Battery Bonding Article
Materials, production considerations and bonding machine capabilities are all discussed

For further information please visit: www.inseto.co.uk

Inseto to distribute FOM Technologies Slot-die Coating Products in the UK and Ireland

24th August 2020

Andover, United Kingdom – Inseto, a leading technical distributor of equipment and materials, has been appointed by FOM Technologies to distribute its slot-die coating products in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Founded in 2012, and a spin-off from Risø/DTU (Danish Technical University), FOM Technologies quickly gained a reputation for its pioneering equipment for the application of functional coatings. The company’s slot-die equipment is used by researchers, scientists and other industry professionals to develop functional coatings that can be placed on sheet materials and other substrates for R&D purposes, perfected and then commercialised for roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacturing techniques, for example.

Inseto to distribute FOM Technologies slot-die coating products, including slot die heads through research and production equipment for sheet and roll based processes, in the UK and Ireland.

Michael Stadi, FOM Technologies’ CEO, comments: “In order to strengthen our global appearance, we are pleased to announce that we have signed a strategic partnership with Inseto. Inseto is representing complementary equipment manufacturers and supplying materials into the sectors we already serve. The company has a long track record for sales of laboratory and industrial equipment and has an excellent reputation for customer service.”

Established in 1987, Inseto has Equipment, Consumables and Adhesive divisions. The company has experience of supplying substrate materials for use in functional coating applications and is already active in those sectors most likely to benefit from FOM’s slot-die coating technologies.

Matt Brown, Managing Director of Inseto, concludes: “We are excited to be working with FOM Technologies. We always research the technologies of companies when expanding our services. Because FOM Technologies’ precision coating solutions are enabling battery, solar and other electronic technology companies to deliver increased performance and reliability, that is of great relevance to the industry sectors we’ve been supporting for more than three decades. This agreement is a win for us and for our customers”.

For further information please visit: www.inseto.co.uk

Knowledge Base Fact Sheet

What Is A Mask Aligner (IKB-068)

1st July 2020

This document overviews the mask aligner and its use in semiconductor photo-lithography.

What is a mask aligner?

A mask aligner is a precision machine tool used in the semiconductor manufacturing process to transfer a pattern onto a wafer or substrate; these patterns are micro and nano in scale.

The patterns (structure) are created using a shadow transfer method, where the pattern (photomask) to be printed is placed between a light source and the substrate to be patterned (wafer). The substrate being patterned is first coated with a photosensitive material (photoresist), this material then reacts to the light projected from the shadow image. The resultant pattern is then developed using specific chemicals.

This process is commonly known as photolithography, more details of this micro-fabrication technique are covered in a separate document Photo Lithography Basics.

Mask aligners enable photolithography to be used to produce semiconductor devices, such transistors, sensors and medical components, etc.

Along with a method to uniformly coat the substrate with photoresist, a mask aligner is crucial to the photolithography process. A mask aligner is used to both precisely align the coated substrate to the photomask containing the structure to be patterned, and for then exposing the substrate with light to transfer the desired pattern onto the substrate.

In order to enable this complex process to take place and to produce structures with features down to 250nm, the mask aligner must be a precision engineered instrument. As these structures are so small, the wavelength of light used is also a factor in determining the final feature size.

The key components of a mask aligner include the following:

  • Ultraviolet light source
  • Optical elements
  • Mask holder
  • Substrate holder
  • Microscope

Ultraviolet light source:

A mask aligner would not be able to expose a substrate to light in a controllable manner, if it does not have a high-quality source of light. Traditionally, this has been a broadband mercury bulb, which provides a spectrum of light (see “Emission Spectrum of a typical mercury lamp” graphic). Despite two wavelengths being outside the specific UV spectrum (100-400nm), mask aligner light sources are commonly referred to as being UV, as the bulb also transmits in this range.

Dependent upon the photoresist used, the light should be transmitted in either the broadband range, or in a specific spectrum G: 436nm, H: 405nm or I: 365nm.

An alternate option to a mercury lamp is to use a UV LED array. These contain a number of LEDs that emit light at the G, H or I line wave-lengths, or a combination of all three to produce a similar broadband spectrum to that of the mercury bulb.

UV LEDs have seen advances in quality and performance in recent years, enabling them to replace the traditional mercury bulb. The introduction of the UV LED has brought a number of advantages. The first of these is a reduction in the power consumption of mask aligners, which brings with it a reduced running cost. In addition, the removal of mercury from the production facility brings health and safety benefits to the operator, plus there is a reduction of the volumes of mercury that must be safely disposed of when lamps reach the end of their lifetime. Other benefits include reduced maintenance, as the LED’s are only illuminated during the exposure period; thus no shutter mechanism is required, plus simplified facility requirements, since no additional cooling or extraction are needed with LED light-sources.

Optical elements:

After the UV source the light passes through a number of optical elements. These optical elements are used to shape the beam of light so that there is uniform illumination across the substrate to be processed.

Typical optical elements include:

  • Ellipsoidal Mirror
  • Cold Light Mirror
  • Heat Sink
  • Shutter
  • Fly’s Eye
  • Condenser Lens
  • Filter Plates
  • Front Mirror
  • Front Lens

The quality of these optical components is critical to the resolution achievable by the mask aligner. Without high quality lenses and mirrors that are kept in good condition and free of scratches or contamination, the resulting lithography will not be homogeneous over the whole substrate. There will be changes in the critical dimensions (CD), under or over exposed photoresist and overall a loss in the yield of functional devices.

Mask holder:

The mask holder is the component that holds in place the photomask containing the pattern to be transferred to the substrate. The mask holder must not allow the photomask to move whilst alignment and exposure are taking place.

Substrate holder:

The substrate holder, often referred to as the wafer chuck, holds the substrate in position within the mask aligner. The substrate is usually held in place by applying a slight vacuum to the chuck and with alignment pins used to mark the rough placement. The substrate holder can then be moved around relative to the mask holder, this allows the precise alignment of features on the mask to existing features on the substrate.

The substrate holder also compensates for any wedge or slope on the surface of the substrate through a process called Wedge Error Compensation (WEC). The WEC is crucial to ensure uniform results across the whole substrate. WEC is the process of ensuring the top surface of the wafer is parallel to the photomask and so the optical path travelled by the UV light is the same regardless of position on the wafer.

Microscope:

The microscope system within the mask aligner allows the user to view the photomask and the substrate and to align the relevant features to one another. Typically, there are two microscope arms which are used to locate the alignment targets on the substrate and the mask, and to then move the substrate on the wafer chuck into position.

Summary:

The quality of these five components outlined above will determine the resolution and alignment accuracy of the lithographic process.

Critical to the final resolution of the features being printed are a well-defined UV source and optics that reduce optical diffraction limitations and ensure uniformity of the light across the whole wafer.

The mask holder and substrate holder together are critical to the alignment accuracy, this is key when fabricating complex devices with many layers which must be aligned to one another.

If employed in a production environment, all elements of the mask aligner can be automated using pattern recognition to detect alignment targets and to correctly orientate the substrate and the mask, in addition to wafer and mask handling systems, to automate the loading and unloaded processes.

Pictorial representation of Shadow Lithography
Pictorial representation of Shadow Lithography





Mask aligner’s key components
Schematic of a mask aligner’s key components (microscope not shown)





Mercury Lamp Emission Spectrum
Emission Spectrum of a typical mercury lamp





SUSS Mask Aligner with LED Light Source
SUSS Mask Aligner with LED Light Source









Example Semiconductor Wafer Lithography
Example Semiconductor Wafer Lithography

For further information on our range of Mask Aligners, please click HERE

Author

Date

Version

Author

Chris Valentine

Date

01 July 2020

Version

IKB068 Rev. 1

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Many Thanks… And A Reminder

1st July 2020

Andover, United Kingdom – In April, Inseto donated £7,000 to seven local charities, all of which are close to the hearts of the company’s employees. Within days of the donations being made all seven charities sent letters that not only expressed huge thanks to Inseto’s employees but also conveyed how important the donations have been and what a positive impact they have had.

Thank You Letter
Matt Brown, Managing Director, pictured with one of the “Letters of Thanks”

Matt Brown, Managing Director of Inseto, comments: “It was great to receive these letters of thanks, which we’ve shared throughout the company, but it was also nice to be reminded of the work these charities are doing during challenging times. It’s all too easy, particularly when social distancing measures are in force, to look inwards, and not beyond the immediate boundaries of our personal and work lives.”

Below, we quote snippets from the letters of thanks Inseto received.

Andover Foodbank
“The disruption to daily life caused by the current virus has affected everyone but its greatest impact is on some of the most vulnerable people. Thanks to your donation, those in need in our local community have received food boxes, toiletries and cleaning supplies. We continue to work with our partner agencies who are helping people stay out of long-term debt or those who are at risk of domestic violence. Schools have been some of our biggest referral agencies during this time, supporting parents to feed and look after their children. We are all living with uncertainty and concern but worrying about how to feed your family increases that enormously. I wish I could show you the relief on people’s faces when they receive one of the food boxes, it is tangible.”

Andover Mind
“A big thank you for your donation of £1,000, this was such a lovely surprise in these unprecedented times. Your donation will help us to continue to support our community, when our services are needed more than ever.”

• The Countess of Brecknock Hospice
“Thank you so much for your kind donation of £1,000.00. We are most grateful for this gift towards our work providing palliative care for our local community. Many of the services provided by the Hospice rely on support and donations to deliver exceptional care to patients and their families at a very difficult time.”

• Abel Foundation
“You’re amazing, thank you, your kind donation will help so many children and families, we couldn’t do what we do without you.”

• Two Saints
“We really appreciate this very generous donation from Inseto in these extraordinary times. Please pass on our thanks to everyone at Inseto for their kindness and please be assured that we will put your donation to excellent use to support the homeless and vulnerable people we work with.”

• Andover Crisis & Support
“The kindness of you all is much appreciated and especially welcome; particularly during these very difficult times which I am sure you will appreciate has led to a substantial increase in demand for our support services. The centre continues to be staffed 24 hours a day by our dedicated team and although we have had to change our way of working in order to comply with current safety measures we are doing all we can to support those in need.”

• Naomi House & Jacksplace
“Thank you for your generous gift of £1,000.00. Everyone at Naomi House & Jacksplace is truly grateful for the support of the team at Inseto UK. These are certainly difficult times for everyone, especially the medically vulnerable children, young adults and their families that use our services. Due to the current circumstances, we had to temporarily suspend respite care at Naomi House & Jacksplace, turning our focus to end-of-life care only. We’ve also seen a significant drop in fundraising incomes, with events and community revenues plummeting, and income from shops seeing a decline. So support like yours in needed now more than ever, and we cannot thank you enough for donating to us at this very difficult time.”

Matt Brown concludes, “It was very humbling to receive these letters of gratitude and to be reminded of how important it is to give back to the community. Together, the communications paint a common picture. Many, many people turn to charities in their hour of need, and those charities are heavily reliant on donations and fund-raising events. Take those away and those dedicated to helping are quickly placed in need of help themselves. Team Inseto was delighted to do its part, and we urge all companies to support their local communities.”

For further information please visit: www.inseto.co.uk

Inseto Sign Sales Agreement with LS Laser Systems

8th June 2020

Andover, United Kingdom Inseto, a leading technical distributor of equipment and materials, has been appointed by Germany-headquartered LS Laser Systems GmbH to distribute its products in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

LS Laser Trim Equipment
LS Laser Systems Laser Trim Equipment

LS Laser Systems’ products are used in the semiconductor, microelectronics, automotive and other advanced engineering sectors. Products include laser systems for thick- and thin-film circuit trimming as well as laser markers. Lasers are available that vary in power and wavelength from Near Infrared (NIR) to far ultraviolet (FUV), and many are controlled by the company’s proprietary LS-MaTriCS software.

Reinhard Ferstl, CEO at LS Laser Systems, comments: “Inseto is representing complementary equipment manufacturers and supplying materials into the sectors we serve. The company is also strong and has an excellent reputation for customer service in the UK and Nordic regions.”

Matt Brown, Director of Inseto, adds: “We’re delighted to be representing LS Laser Systems through our Equipment Division, in which we already have manufacturing and test systems from 11 other equipment manufacturers. This breadth of suppliers, along with our technical specialists’ expertise, is making us a go-to company for advanced manufacturing equipment and materials in advanced engineering sectors.”

For further information please visit: www.inseto.co.uk. Download a PDF copy of this news release HERE.

Inseto Business Continuity – COVID-19 Update

12th May 2020

Revision 3 – 12 May 2020

Inseto has continued to develop and implement its business continuity plans, in accordance with the latest UK Government and NHS guidelines regarding COVID-19.

We would like to reassure our customers, partners and suppliers, that we are continuing with business operations as normal but have adjusted our processes and practices to best protect our employees and associates during these exceptional times.

Inseto’s can be contacted as usual during business hours, with telephone, video conferencing and remote support facilities all available.

Download a copy of our Inseto, Andover “Risk Assessment” HERE.

Please download a copy of this document HERE.

Kind regards,

Matt Brown

Managing Director

Local Charities Receive £7,000 Donation from Inseto

12th May 2020

Andover, United Kingdom – Inseto, one of the UK’s leading technical distributors of equipment and materials into advanced engineering sectors, has donated £7,000 to seven local charities, all of which are close to the hearts of the company’s employees.

Matt Brown - Managing Director of Inseto
Andover-based Inseto has donated £7,000 to seven local charities. Matt Brown (pictured), Director of Inseto: “…we feel it is important to support our local charities, just as they have supported our employees and members of their families during their difficult times.”

A donation of £1,000 has been made to each of the following registered charities: The Countess of Brecknock Hospice, a specialist palliative care unit attached to Andover War Memorial Hospital, Andover MIND; which has been working in the area since 1984 to support and advise anyone affected by mental health distress; the Andover Crisis Support Centre, which provides accommodation for women and women with children in need of a supportive environment; Andover Food Bank, which provides support for local people in distress; Naomi House, which opened in 1997 to offer care and support to children who were not expected to live until adulthood; the Abel Foundation,which was created to aid the suffers of Mitochondrial Disease and help their families deal with this life limiting disease, for which there is currently no cure; and Two Saints, which provides safe housing and support services to reduce homelessness, and improve health and well-being.

Matt Brown, Managing Director of Inseto, comments: “Most charities are suffering during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and whilst the UK Government has announced an emergency support package for ‘front-line’ charities, we’re worried that funds may not reach several of our local ones here in Andover, that are more reliant on community based fund raising.”

Established in 1987, Inseto distributes equipment and materials, such as silicon wafers and specialist adhesives, used in the manufacture of integrated circuits (ICs, electronic chips) that are then used in mobile phones, wearable electronics, satellites and electric and hybrid vehicles, to name but a few applications.

Brown concludes: “Like most companies we’re having to watch our outgoings during these difficult times, but we feel it is important to support our local charities, just as they have supported our employees’ families and friends during their difficult times.”

For further information please visit: www.inseto.co.uk

Inseto Provides Even Greater Technical Support

14th April 2020

Chris Valentine appointed to help Inseto’s valued customers further de-risk their semiconductor and MEMS fabrication projects.

Andover, United Kingdom – Inseto, a leading technical distributor of equipment and materials, has appointed Chris Valentine in the role of Technical Sales Engineer to work with customers to de-risk their semiconductor and MEMS manufacturing projects, by advising on material selection and the best tools to use for fabrication and test.

Chris Valentine appointed to help Inseto’s valued customers further de-risk their semiconductor and MEMS fabrication projects.
Chris Valentine

Valentine has a Masters in Science (MSci) in Physics from the University of Glasgow and a Masters in Research (MRes) from the University of Cambridge. He is also currently working on a thesis that could result in a PhD in Engineering being awarded by the University of Cambridge. Key subjects studied during his time in academia include advanced carbon nanotube electrodes for electromechanical sensing, MEMs manufacture and photolithography, electrical and nano materials, optical microscopy, solid state physics, semiconductor devices, and nuclear and particle physics.

Matt Brown, Director of Inseto, comments: “We are pleased to welcome Chris onboard. He is set to become a valuable extension to our team of technical specialists, and our customers will benefit greatly from the wealth of knowledge Chris gained during his academic studies and in various research projects.”

Valentine’s PhD research work includes the fabrication of electrochemical sensors to detect chemical analytes; the production of structured carbon nanotube electrodes to control porosity and morphology; and making improvements to the sensitivity and selectivity of fabricated sensors.

For further information please visit: www.inseto.co.uk

Finding Wafers Just Got Much Easier

1st April 2020

Inseto launches comprehensive online store for selecting and ordering silicon, silica, glass, coated and SOI wafers.

Andover, United Kingdom

– Inseto, a leading technical distributor of equipment and materials, has added an online store to its website. The store, which carries Inseto’s current inventory of semiconductor wafers, including silicon, silica, glass, coated and silicon on insulator (SOI), features secure online payment and rapid delivery of stocked wafers. Also, Inseto’s online inventory is soon to include sapphire, silicon on sapphire (SoS), lithium niobate, germanium and other materials.

Inseto launches comprehensive online store for selecting and ordering silicon, silica, glass, coated and SOI wafers.
Inseto launches comprehensive online store for selecting and ordering silicon, silica, glass, coated and SOI wafers.

A powerful filtering tool enables users to narrow down their searches by specifying properties common to all wafers, such as diameter and thickness. Then, depending on wafer material, the properties become more specific. For example, silicon wafer properties include ingot growth method, crystallographic orientation, dopant, grade and upper and lower surface resistivity.

The site also carries a Wafer Selection Guide. This is accessible from within the online store and from within Inseto’s Knowledge Base, a repository of freely available, viewable and downloadable articles and guides. Brown concludes. “At Inseto, we’re all about customer support. It’s in our DNA. Also, whilst the online store has greatly speeded the wafer selection and ordering process, our experts remain on hand to offer advice and guidance if anyone does have questions.”

Matt Brown, Director of Inseto, comments: “We have ploughed the combined knowledge of our wafer and supply chain experts into our online store. In our experience, most customers know the exact specifications of the wafers they need, certainly in the case of repeat orders, or they wish to rapidly explore a range of properties and available options.”

To order wafers onlineFor further information on these products please visit: https://www.inseto.co.uk/store/