Cleanrooms are essential environments for many industries, including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and semiconductors. They are designed to minimize the presence of particles that can contaminate products and equipment. One of the most effective ways to ensure the cleanliness of a cleanroom is through particle counting. Performance can be a significant factor in determining the right particle counter to manage a cleanroom that complies with ISO 14644-1. The particle counter detects individual particles and counts them. It can identify solid, liquid, and aerosol particles depending on the type of particle counter, but cleanrooms only use aerosol counters.
Aerosol particle counters count and measure particles to determine the cleanroom’s air quality. They are used extensively in cleanrooms to test the cleanroom and classify it under air quality standards based on predetermined particle count limits. We will explore particle counters and their use in the semiconductor industry for contamination control to help you understand the benefits of minimizing airborne particles for semiconductor manufacturing.
Particle Contamination Control for the Semiconductor Industry
Particle Counters for Gases
Advanced technology manufacturers, such as state-of-the-art semiconductors, precision optics, disk drives, and LED/OLED display producers, rely on ultra-high purity gases in their high-volume production processes. The gases are supplied to process tools to protect products during production and create an atmosphere for reactions that positively impact the product. Substandard gases can contribute to ionic contaminants that change the electrical properties, decrease thin film adhesion, and point defects that reduce yield rates.
Manufacturers can ensure the gases meet particle control specifications by monitoring the gas source for continuous quality control (CQC). Gas quality can be evaluated and adjusted, and its cleanliness can be validated using high-pressure diffusers and laser particle counters in the distribution piping. The ideal strategy relies on periodic and continuous monitoring to ensure high-purity gas at various points to ensure the final point remains high-quality.
Particle Counters for Air
The semiconductor industry relies on cleanrooms to control the product manufacturing environment to protect product quality from particle contamination. Active air filtration systems are commonly employed in cleanrooms to decrease airborne particulates to the specified limits. Operators can determine the effectiveness of the filtration, its impact on the process or products, and the source of contamination through particulate monitoring. Manufacturers often choose an aerosol particle counter based on their budget and application. Air particle counters can identify debris like bolts falling from the crane that may compromise the air quality in the room. Cleanroom cranes are designed to prevent particulate debris from entering the cleanroom space from the crane equipment.
Benefits of Particle Counting
Cleanroom particle counters deliver the following benefits to cleanrooms used in semiconductor manufacturing:
- Real-Time Response: Particle counting monitoring systems offer detection and warning when the particles in the air exceed pre-defined limits. They can help reduce yield losses when the environmental conditions are not desirable by alerting operators or supervisors of the conditions in real time.
- Proactive Contamination Control: Cleanroom particle counting systems allow manufacturers proactive monitoring of contamination issues before they have a chance to cause damage.
- High-Quality Component Production: Electronic assembly processes require a high-purity environment. In semiconductor manufacturing, a cleanroom environment is required for the refinement process of the semiconductor seed material to produce semiconductors with high clarity throughout the manufacturing process until post-production and assembly of the semiconductors and other electronic components.
Partner with American Crane
Manufacturers of cutting-edge technology, such as semiconductor plants, rely on heavily monitored cleanroom conditions to ensure their product yield is of the highest quality. Manufacturers commonly employ particle counters to monitor particles in the air and ensure a safe limit is maintained. Several types of particle counters offer performance in detecting and counting aerosol, liquid, and solid particles. Semiconductor manufacturers rely on aerosol particle counters to maintain high-quality gas streams for their process tools and monitor air conditions in cleanrooms where the semiconductors are developed from start to finish.
American Crane & Equipment Corporation’s cleanroom cranes minimize the risk of contamination by meeting high standards and strict specifications to prevent introducing particulates to the cleanroom environment. Our cleanroom cranes are manufactured in-house or by reputable suppliers to ensure our standards are met and feature components like shielding to prevent contamination. Visit our online store to browse our selection of products for semiconductor manufacturing cleanrooms. Contact us or request a quote to learn more about our capabilities.