Products and processes surrounding cleanrooms continue to decrease the dimensions of their fea- ture sizes, thereby increasing the potential issues urrounding contamination, particularly in semi- conductor-based processes. While most traditional
contamination issues in a cleanroom are operator-based,
these new smaller feature size processes are increasingly
being integrated and automated. As such, these automated
processes and equipment have to be examined for their
ability to generate contaminants on their own.
Obviously, automation system equipment manufacturers are aware of these potentialities. Non-gassing lubricants,
vacuum systems, non-corrosive materials, and shipping wrappers are just a few of the
measures used to minimize contamination. Long-term warm ups and operation in
vacuum-based environments prior to installation are also recommended. New instrumentation for finding these new smaller contaminants are also required to ensure that
certification and validation (also newly written) specifications are met.
But the complexity of these new systems is also increasing—as seen with 450-
mm semiconductor wafer sizes with sub-nanoscale features. The same effects are
likely to be valid for biotech systems and products based on DNA structures.
That’s the technology of now. But, what about the technology of tomorrow? The
processes will assuredly be more complex. The feature sizes will be even smaller.
And the cleanliness requirements will be more demanding. Device, equipment,
and process designs will most likely need to change. New assembly procedures and
enhanced instrumentation will also need to be developed. Much of this new instrumentation will likely be based on non-invasive optical techniques to avoid the creation of contamination on its own.
For life science applications, self-assembly techniques are already being studied,
but their integration and packaging into biological drugs will still need to be developed, although the scales needed for those may be obtainable with current existing tools. Production-level analytical tools for ensuring the quality of the products
being created are not developed and will need to be—the potential ramifications of
biologics being either poorly produced or misproduced are critical.
For solid-state applications, the integration of smaller-scale features will likely be
combined with three-dimensional structures making production and assembly even
more difficult (and contamination even more critical), requiring increased levels of
precision with new automation systems. Probes for measuring the accuracy of these
3-D devices should be readily obtainable with current technologies.
Of course, the vast production of cleanroom-based products will still be at the
level of current technologies, measurements, and contamination control. These new
devices and systems are the next generation of products and processes and likely
more than 10 years away from realization. But they will become the bulk of products and processes for the next 20 years after their development in the 2020s with
increasing production volumes each year. New automation systems as of now not
even conceptualized will be the basis of their implementation.
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Charles W. Berndt, C. W. Berndt Associates Ltd.
Ahmed A. Busnaina, PhD, NSF Center for
Microcontamination Control - Northeastern University
Scott Mackler, Cleanroom Consulting LLC
Gregg A. Mosley, Biotest Laboratories Inc.
Robert Nightingale, Cleanroom Garments
Bipin Parekh, PhD, Entegris Inc.
Morgan Polen, Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions
Michael Rataj, Aramark Cleanroom Services
Raymond K. Schneider, PE
Consultant and Faculty Member, Clemson University
Howard Siegerman, Ph.D.
Siegerman and Associates LLC
Matt Smith, PE, PMP, CH2M HILL
Scott Sutton, PhD, Microbiology Network Inc.
Art Vellutato, Jr. , Veltek Associates Inc.
Bob Vermillion, CPP/Fellow, RMV Technology Group LLC
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