Industrializing new technology

Our client is a major American supplier of optical lithography light sources for industry, specialized in producing Deep Ultraviolet (DUV) and Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) light. This light enables chipmakers and hardware manufacturers to produce extremely small chips for such things as telephones, tablets or smart watches. At the present time, the company employs 1,300 people and operates out of eight locations in seven countries.

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The challenge: greater availability by industrializing generators

Over the years, our client had built up a great deal of expertise in developing laser technology, focusing mainly on research and the production of limited series. The technology it had developed was now also being applied in hi-tech devices in larger series, which had led to a greater need for industrialization. The devices in which the laser technology is applied were the subject of a program to significantly increase production availability.

Ultraviolet light is generated using liquid tin and a droplet generator (DG). The challenge lay in the liquid tin reservoir, which quickly emptied. Refilling this took time, leading to low availability of the machine and thus to loss of productivity. Switching to a decoupled droplet generator (DDG) provided a solution to this problem and made a significant contribution to increasing availability. However, for this DDG, it was also necessary to develop a number of new functionalities, including an electrical cabinet.

Definition and objectives

One precondition for a DDG to operate efficiently is an electrical cabinet. This cabinet connects to all sensors and controls of the DDG unit and supplies power to all functionalities, making it a central part of the process. There were two objectives:

  1. To introduce new technology based on research
  2. To achieve a step forwards in industrializing the module

The overall objective was to produce a tool that was ready for the serial production of EUV light sources, so that the industry could be served optimally.

PDM was asked to translate the specifications provided by research to the practical design of the cabinet, and also to produce this design. In so doing, we would supplement the client’s development expertise and contribute to industrializing the product.

Approach

PDM became involved at a very early stage, which, viewed in retrospect was one of the major factors that assured the success of the project. The client came over from the United States for a two-week stay to investigate the feasibility of the new plans for the electrical cabinet in close collaboration with our project team. Using, combining and supplementing each other’s expertise resulted in a comprehensive description of the specifications that the cabinet would have to satisfy and what it should be capable of doing. The result was right first time, and that benefitted speed and timely planning throughout the entire project. No rework was needed and we were quickly able to focus on further work.

Risk and Change Management were two other success factors. From the beginning, technical and project-related risks were proactively identified. Mitigating actions were defined at an early point and then efficiently implemented and followed up with all stakeholders. The result was that no unexpected issues arose during the design phase that might have jeopardized the original schedule. By applying efficient Change Management, we were able to monitor the original scope and implement only those aspects that provided real, practical, added value.

PDM took account of optimum life-cycle management by assessing which suppliers of power supplies, racks, transformers, etc. optimally matched the specifications for the cabinet. In this, we used both our technical knowledge and our knowledge of the market and components, and adapted these to the client’s wishes.


Client’s Team Lead

You are top notch! Extremely knowledgeable. PDM has professional and deep knowledge of the design and the subject.

Tight project management was then used to progress from architecture to a detailed design. Among the methods used was SCRUM, to optimize mutual coordination, tight planning and good communication. A multidisciplinary team of experts in electrical engineering, manufacturing, refrigeration and safety met weekly for consultation. In spite of the large distances separating team members, there was still a lot of face-to-face contact, both in the Netherlands and the United States. During our week-long reviews, we all put our heads together to find new ways of further improving the match between design and functionality based on feedback. These included ways of increasing volume and improving cooling for the electrical cabinet.

Client’s project leader

PDM’s performance set a great reference point of the project done right, on schedule, professionally, with the right documentation. Everyone was especially impressed with the quality of the CDRs.

Feasibility was investigated step by step, designs were drawn, concepts were presented back and forth, and various tests were carried out. Extensive and, most of all, good contact contributed to a high-quality result.

Project results

  • An electrical cabinet able to provide the DDG with an adequate power supply in order to operate continuously.
  • Improved availability of the tool. No production downtime and therefore no loss of production. Serial production is now possible.
  • Faster time-to-market for the new generation of EUV technology thanks to good collaboration and higher availability of the tool.
  • Greater volume than normal – from 38 HE to 40 HE. The extra volume provides space for future equipment.
  • A new, safer cooling system. Cooling has been designed so that the hot air does not pass through the modules but is exhausted upwards from the back of the cabinet.
Client’s project leader

Our lesson: get the same PDM-team when we need to develop something again.

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