SEMVision : החדשנות נמצאת בפרטים הקטנים
המוצר: מערכת אוטומטית לבקרת איכות של שבבי סיליקון
החברה: אפלייד מטיריאלס
תחילת הפיתוח: 1994
Product: Automatic System for Quality Control of Silicon Wafers
Company: Applied Materials
Start of Development: 1994
Ever since the 1960s, chips with assimilated semiconductors have been used in every electronic device in our daily lives, from TVs to computers to cellphones. Their manufacturing process has become increasingly sophisticated as usage has expanded.
In 1994, Israeli electronics company Opal Technologies identified a need for a quick, automatic system that would detect defects in the manufacturing process of silicon chips. Until then, engineers would examine each silicon wafer using manual microscopes, searching for the tiniest defect that could potentially cause
malfunctions in the final product.
Rafi Yizhar, CEO of Opal Technologies, assembled a team to make this vision a reality: an automatic, fast, precise defect control system that could operate without human contact. They wanted to assimilate an electronic microscope in the manufacturing process. Previously, the microscope had been an analytical tool used exclusively by the most advanced laboratories. The new electronic microscope would offer significantly higher resolution than the optical tools in use at the time, facilitating the transition to mass production at the required quality level.
In 1997, American giant Applied Materials acquired Opal. At the time, the product was at an advanced stage of development, and the team that stayed on after the acquisition continued to work on the product. In 1998, the innovative product that was named SEMVision was released to the market.
Wafer manufacturers only recognized the advantages of the system when they saw the automatization, speed, precision and resolution that offered quality control of the manufacturing process at a greater scope than ever before. The capability introduced by SEMVision was groundbreaking in the field of semiconductors in particular, and in the field of microscopy in general.
SEMVision products were quickly installed in all wafer factories across the globe, and they have been technology forerunners ever since. Products continue to evolve in accordance with changing market demands. When the first product was released in 1998, the technology node was 250 nanometers. SEMVision G6, the product currently on the market, offers defect detection at a resolution of one nanometer in the manufacturing of 7 nanometer technology.
Products are developed and manufactured in the Israeli division of Applied Materials operating out of Rehovot employing 1,350 people. Sales of SEMVision products are valued at billions of dollars. In effect, everyone in the West uses equipment whose components have undergone quality control processes conducted by SEMVision.