OYAMA, Japan--Gigaphoton Inc. (Head Office: Oyama, Tochigi; President & CEO: Hitoshi Tomaru), a leading manufacturer of light sources used in lithography, has announced the commencement of field testing for "hTGM," a neon gas recycling system designed for KrF excimer lasers, one of the company's core products.
In KrF and ArF excimer lasers, which are used in advanced semiconductor manufacturing processes, neon accounts for over 96% of laser gases used as the buffer gas. However, the cost of neon gas has risen sharply, reaching 5 to 20 times previous prices1 due to difficulty in obtaining it, a situation brought about by a worldwide neon supply shortage that has continued since 2015. In response to the situation, in July of 2015 Gigaphoton launched the "Neon Gas Rescue Program" in order to provide support to customers in sustaining stable high-volume manufacturing environments.
Of the three program options Gigaphoton previously announced plans of launching in 2016, the company has now completed development of its neon gas recycling system "hTGM," and will begin field evaluations of the system this month. hTGM makes it possible to reuse laser gas by connecting directly to the conduit of lasers in operation at semiconductor plants, collecting the used gas, removing impurities, and then re-injecting it back into the laser. This system is both eco-friendly and provides the greatest possible recycling rate without impacting the operation of laser equipment. hTGM also features an extremely efficient design that allows up to five lasers to be connected to a single unit. At present, the company has decided to begin evaluations for KrF lasers at user facilities from the end of February, after which it plans to progressively apply the system to ArF lasers as well.
Hitoshi Tomaru, President & CEO of Gigaphoton says, "hTGM has been developed in accordance with our EcoPhoton™ program, which serves as our company's green innovation roadmap. As a laser manufacturer that supports the high-volume manufacturing of semiconductors, Gigaphoton is committed to continuing the development of technologies that contribute to stable, continuous operation in semiconductor manufacturing while also making it possible to conserve limited resources."
1: Based on a company survey
About the EcoPhoton™ program
The EcoPhoton™ program is a roadmap, envisioned and realized by Gigaphoton, which has been operating since 2003. The program is intended to provide lithography light sources that are both eco-friendly and user-friendly. In the EcoPhoton™ program, laser operating costs are first separated into three categories: (1) costs incurred by consumable parts, (2) costs incurred by downtime, and (3) costs incurred due to environmental impact. The primary cause of costs in each of these categories is then subjected to a detailed analysis, and new technologies are introduced to achieve the program's goal of continually reducing costs.
Since it was founded in 2000, Gigaphoton has delivered valuable solutions to semiconductor manufacturers throughout the world as a laser supplier. In every stage from R&D to manufacture, sales, and maintenance services, Gigaphoton is committed to providing world-class support delivered from the perspective of everyday users. For more information please visit www.gigaphoton.com.