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More precise and faster contamination control with AFM   

Philips Innovation labs is one of the first companies in Europe to have purchased the brand new Dimension Fast Scan Atomic Force Microscope from Bruker Nano Surfaces Division. With the Dimension Fast Scan, contamination control becomes easier and faster by scanning surfaces with nanometer precision. Using this instrument, Philips Innovation Services is able to detect and identify the source of the contamination and also to advice on how to prevent contamination.

Importance of contamination control

Contamination control is extremely important in ultra-clean manufacturing as in the semiconductor industry for example. The presence of organic contaminants on a surface influences its functionality, particularly when they appear on optical parts. This can result in yield loss, shortened tool lifetime and reduced long-term device reliability. Knowledge on how to prevent or remove small contaminant particles from a surface is therefore of high interest.

Size of particles versus surface area


With a low density of particles on surfaces, large areas have to be examined to describe their distribution. Particles as small as 5 nm are still of interest and therefore high speed mapping is essential, exactly where the strength of this new instrumentation lies. In the past, analysis of surface areas of 10x10 micrometer (with 10 nm resolution) could take up to an hour. Now we are able to go from 10 nm detection to a detection limit of 2.5 nm, while scanning even faster.


Method to investigate particle-surface interaction


Since it is impossible to avoid contamination completely, surfaces have to be cleaned after processing. Therefore surface treatments have to be evaluated for ease of removal of the particles. Within Philips Innovation Services a method was developed to investigate particle-surface interaction by using AFM to measure the force interaction between well-chosen synthetic organic particles and pre-treated surfaces.