A shortage of chips, supply bottlenecks for semiconductors and material shortages have been frequent topics in the business news for several months. That is unlikely to change this year, while demand is rising. As a result, automotive manufacturers have already been forced to temporarily stop their production lines, and production has also repeatedly paused in other industries.
Complex production process
The production of these microchips is a complex process that requires a great deal of precision. This is precisely why expanding production capacities is not a simple matter. Hundreds of steps are required before a microchip is finished.
Silanes are needed at numerous points of this process. For example, especially pure chlorosilanes are used to create monocrystalline silicon, from which wafers are cut. “These are thin round panels made from high-purity silicon in the form of a monocrystal,” explains Johanna Schuchmann, Marketing Manager Semiconductors at Evonik Silanes. They are around one millimeter thick and usually have a diameter of 200 to 300 millimeters.
The wafers form the basis on which microchips are built in a large number of steps. Razor-thin layers of different materials are applied one by one using special procedures. One of these procedures is called chemical vapor deposition. Here, the ultra-high-purity silanes from Evonik create silicon dioxide (SiO2), which separates electrically conductive layers from one another. “At the end of the production process, there are hundreds of chips on the final silicon wafer. These are then cut out using a diamond saw,” says Johanna Schuchmann.
Due to their chemical properties, chlorosilanes need to be handled with particular care. “This is where our customers benefit from our many years of experience,” emphasizes Schuchmann. “Our experts support them around the clock in technical and safety-related matters.”
High-purity silanes for semiconductor production
Evonik markets the silanes used in semiconductor technology under the brand names DYNASYLAN® and SIRIDION®. Numerous cleaning steps during production ensure that the finished materials have a purity of up to 99.999999 percent.
“Contamination, such as that caused by metals, is a problem in these applications,” explains the expert, adding that this makes it all the more important to discuss the specification of the delivered silanes with the customer in detail. After all, the requirements can differ greatly depending on the application.
However, the scrutinous release analytics to which Evonik products are subjected in the factory before delivery are always the same. The aim of this step is to ensure that every customer always receives exactly what they expect. During trace analysis, for example, the Evonik experts can track down even a single foreign atom among more than a billion atoms.
This purity is vitally important for the semiconductor industry, but is not sufficient on its own, says Schuchmann: “We develop custom solutions and always work closely with the customer to achieve the best possible results together. By doing this, we can also live up to future requirements and new technologies in the semiconductor industry with our silanes.”