Steven M. Jaffe, Ph.D., President & CEO, Claudia B. Jaffe,Ph.D., Executive VP
One of the things that solid-state manufacturers don't usually pay attention to during semiconductor fabrication is the impact of technical lighting during defect analysis and device testing. For optical inspection equipment, the technical lighting defines all the key metrics of interest in wafer quality (signal-to-noise ratio, sensitivity, contrast, lower detection limit, resolution and contrast). Hence, if a manufacturer could control the spectral, spatial, and temporal properties of light, they would have much better control in their device measurement instruments.
However, light-based analysis devices come with their fair share of challenges and, at the moment, warrant a lot of improvements. For example, in the semiconductor arena, light-based measurement equipment is required to work 24x7. Lamps used in such devices don't last for long and decay over time, leading to their burnout and subsequent replacement. During defect analysis, the intensity of the light used needs to be consistent throughout the inspection process, which is nigh impossible for various kinds of illumination devices. Furthermore, traditional lighting devices like arc lamps and LEDs often struggle to provide wavelength-specific lighting and brightness levels to help discover defects that react to particular frequencies. That is why many solid-state device manufacturers turn to the lighting products and services offered by Lumencor, Inc.—a solid-state technical lighting company that provides its clients with high-quality light engines to facilitate rapid, sensitive, and accurate defect analysis during their device fabrication and quality testing processes.
Lumencor builds modular design light engines that come together to answer the unmet needs of the solid-state market in terms of technical performance, answering the need for power, spectral breadth, spectral purity, brightness, fast switching times, and other issues one can't solve with just traditional arc lamps.
"We build extremely reproducible, controllable, and stable light engines that can be tailored to meet the optical requirements of the instruments they serve. Tools for profilometry, reflectometry, bright and dark field microscopy, ellipsometry are all benefiting from Lumencor illuminators. Moreover, the light engines can provide precisely the same amount of light from device to device, making any fleet of instruments based on our products, uniquely consistent and reproducible," states Claudia B. Jaffe, Ph.D., co-founder and Executive VP of Lumencor.
Lumencor provides test-and-measurement equipment manufacturers with a new means to identify defects by turning on specific wavelength lighting that allows them to learn of many lower-level defects in their fabrication process through the use of well-behaved, controlled lighting. In contrast, traditional arc lamps use mercury amalgam bulbs for defect analysis. Though they are somewhat effective, their light intensity decays in a short amount of time, reducing their bulbs’ operational lifetime to no more than 5-6 months. Lumencor builds only mercury-free products, with light-based analysis improvements that have a lifespan of more than ten years with very little decay in their performance, including optical power.
Along with fast switch on and off times in their equipment, the devices also allow the user to turn on/off individual light colorbands to examine defects that are spectrally excited in specific wavelengths. As everything is electronically addressed, the analysis becomes highly specific, fast, and reproducible.
The effectiveness of Lumencor products has allowed it to gain so much reputation that some of its clients enlist their aid to improve their already launched products. For instance, the company was once approached by a major semiconductor OEM to redesign lamp test equipment they had already launched and shipped overseas. Lumencor developed a custom solution for them in 60 days, making them genuine believers in their products. Now the client brings all their product lines and products under development to Lumencor. "We start with the optical requirements of the instruments we serve and design lighting that best suits its needs. Our paradigm is to tailor the lighting to serve the OEM’s instruments. For some clients time-to-market is everything and our modular designs enable us to move quickly in a competitive marketplace," states Steven M. Jaffe, Ph.D., President and CEO.
The solution provider not only improves its clients' products but also has IP as the basis for its light engines. Lumencor designs and builds novel light engines as well as complete optical trains. They consider themselves high end and independent integrators in the sense that they can pick and choose the key optical components that best serve their clients. This makes the company more creative, flexible, and responsive in the face of today's demanding economic times. As a result, despite the challenges the pandemic presents to supply chains and hardware manufacturers, the company has seen double digit revenue growth over previous years. Hence, Lumencor keeps growing to provide its OEM clients effective and efficient lighting solutions for the solid-state device fabrication process.