Innovative Water Treatment Systems for Semiconductor Manufacturing Factories

Figure 1 Water treatment system for semiconductor factories.

Water is crucial in the semiconductor manufacturing industry as it is used for various purposes such as cleaning, rinsing, cooling, and as a component in chemical reactions. However, the water used in these processes must meet stringent purity requirements to avoid contamination of the products and damage to the equipment.

Different Types of Water Used in Semiconductor Manufacturing

In the semiconductor manufacturing industry, water is used in various processes, such as wafer cleaning, photoresist development, and cooling, among others. Here are the different types of water used in semiconductor manufacturing and their specific applications.

● Deionized Water (DI Water)

The most prevalent type of water employed in semiconductor manufacturing is known as deionized water or DI water. Ordinarily, DI water is harvested after raw water has been passed through IX resins, which purge off impurity ions. This results in almost completely pure water that lacks impurities, including ions and organic compounds. DI water finds usage in multiple applications like chemical mixing, wafer cleaning, and photoresist development.

● Ultra-Pure Water (UPW)

Ultra-pure water, also known as UPW, undergoes purification processes that exceed those used for DI water. UPW is produced through methods such as reverse osmosis, ion exchange, and ultrafiltration, resulting in water that is completely devoid of impurities, including microorganisms, particles, and dissolved gases. This highly purified water is essential in applications that require extreme precision, such as wafer cleaning, lithography, and etching.

Ultrapure water produced for semiconductor factories

● Purified Water (PW)

Through various purification methods, impurities are eliminated from water to produce purified water (PW). This type of water is utilized for tasks including cleaning, rinsing, and cooling.

● Wastewater

During the semiconductor manufacturing process, wastewater is generated, which can potentially contain a range of pollutants, such as chemicals, particles, and metals. Before discharge into the environment, it is essential to treat this wastewater. The treatment procedures employed depend on the types of contaminants present and may involve physical, chemical, and biological methods.

Water Treatment Systems Used in Semiconductor Factories

● Water Deionizers

Water deionizers utilize two types of IX resins, namely cation, and anion, to extract positively and negatively charged ions from water, which may include dissolved salts and minerals. The outcome is the creation of water with high purity and low levels of conductivity. Deionizers are frequently employed as a pre-treatment measure to eliminate minerals and salts from the water before it undergoes additional purification procedures.

● Reverse Osmosis Systems

A reverse osmosis system generates pure water by relying on a partially porous membrane to alienate contaminants. The method necessitates the use of pressure to propel the water through the RO membrane, resulting in the separation of impurities. RO technology is successful in eliminating impurities like minerals, salts, and organic compounds, and it is frequently employed in semiconductor manufacturing to create top-quality water for various applications.

Figure 2 RO system for semiconductor water treatment.

● Electrodeionization Systems

Electrodeionization (EDI) is a method of purifying water that utilizes ion exchange resins in conjunction with an electric field to eliminate charged ions from water. The process uses a combination of cation and anion exchange resins and an electric field to separate and remove impurities. The process results in high-purity water with a low conductivity level. EDI systems are commonly used in semiconductor manufacturing for post-treatment of water that has already been purified by other methods.

● UV Sterilizers

UV treatment in water treatment procedure utilizes ultraviolet radiation to eradicate microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Ideally,  water infested with microbes is brought to UV light, resulting in the demolition of the microbes’ genetic material. Consequently, the microorganisms’ reproduction is halted resulting in pure water lacking harmful microbes. UV sterilizers are widely used in semiconductor manufacturing to guarantee the absence of hazardous microorganisms in the water used for various applications.

● Ultrafiltration Systems

The process of Ultrafiltration (UF) involves using a membrane to purify water by removing particles and impurities from it. The membrane comprises tiny openings that facilitate the passage of water molecules but confine pollutants, and an external force is applied to drive the water across the membrane. UF systems are widely employed in semiconductor manufacturing to eliminate bacteria, viruses, and particles from the water before using it in different processes.

Ultrafiltration Systems

The Essence of Using Water Treatment Systems in Semiconductor Manufacturing

● Environmental Protection

Semiconductor manufacturing processes consume significant amounts of water, which can lead to water pollution if not properly treated. Deploying water treatment systems can help to reduce the amount of wastewater and harmful chemicals released into the environment.

● Regulatory Compliance

Many countries have regulations that require semiconductor manufacturing factories to treat their wastewater before releasing it into the environment. Not adhering to these rules may lead to penalties, litigation, and harm to the organization’s image.

● Cost Savings

Water treatment systems can help semiconductor manufacturing factories to reduce their water usage and wastewater disposal costs. By treating and reusing wastewater, factories can also reduce their water bills and lower their overall operating costs.

Cost savings for semiconductor manufacturing factories

● Protecting Equipment

Water treatment systems can also protect the equipment used in semiconductor manufacturing processes. Semiconductor manufacturing requires ultra-pure water, and untreated water can contain minerals, bacteria, and other contaminants that can damage the equipment and reduce its lifespan.

● Public Health and Safety

The chemicals used in semiconductor manufacturing processes can be hazardous to public health and safety if they are not properly treated and disposed of. Water treatment systems can help to remove these hazardous chemicals from the wastewater and ensure that they do not contaminate the environment or harm human health.

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