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The SPTS APS Dielectric Etch tool is an ICP RIE tool used to etch 6" (150 mm) silicon dioxide, glass, and quartz wafers. It has a high power RF bias supply for generating ion bombardment to enhance etch rate. A high capacity turbo pump and advanced ICP source allow for very low pressure (1-10 mTorr) plasma processing, improving sidewall verticality. Very deep (100 μm) etches have been performed on fused silica and quartz substrates. It can also etch thin film oxide up to 8 μm thick with 90° ± 0.5° sidewall angles. Sub-micron feature etching has also been demonstrated (down to 100 nm linewidth). The tool will only accept 6” wafers - all smaller samples must be mounted to a carrier wafer.

Equipment Details
Technology DRIE
Materials Restriction Semi-Clean
Material Processed SiO2
Fused silica
Mask Materials SPR 220
Sample Size 150 mm
Gases Used Ar, He, C4F8, O2, SF6, CF4, H2
Equipment Manual
Overview System Overview
Operating Procedure SOP
Supported Processes Supported Processes
User Processes User Processes
Maintenance Maintenance



  • [2019-11-18] If you are processing samples through the STS Glass Etcher that will later be processed in CMOS clean furnaces, we are now requiring a double pre-furnace clean before your furnace run. The first clean would be in RCA-81 and the second would be in PFC-01. We will continue to investigate other cleaning methods and strategies to improve upon our tool and material segregation policy in the future. Please submit a Helpdesk ticket for the Glass Etcher if this new policy poses issues to your process so we can work with you to resolve them.


The STS APS system is designed for deep glass RIE but is also capable of high aspect ratio thin film etching at submicron resolution.

  • SiO2 films
    • Up to 8 μm
    • 0.26 μm/min
    • 2.5:1 selectivity to PR
    • Feature sizes down to 100 nm
  • Fused silica, quartz, glass substrates
    • 100 μm depth
    • ~0.5 μm/min
    • Up to 5:1 selectivity to KMPR/SU-8
    • Feature sizes > 20 μm

System overview

Hardware details

  • Gases
  • Pressure
    • 1550 L/sec Mag 2000 CTS Turbo Pump
    • 2-250 mTorr
    • Fast acting VAT pendulum valve
  • Chuck
    • 150 mm Wafer
    • 0-20 Torr Backside He Cooling
    • -20°C to 20°C
  • Chamber
    • 120°C Walls
    • Aluminum Walls
  • RF
    • 2500 W, 13.56 Mhz Coil
    • 1000 W, 13.56 Mhz Platen

Substrate Requirements

  • 150 mm (6") wafers
  • Sample/carrier must be conductive, or a semiconductor for wafer to clamp on electrostatic chuck
    • Pyrex glass with an Si layer on top has worked

Material restrictions

Samples that will later be processed in a CMOS clean furnace will require two PFC steps prior to the furnace step. The first should be performed in RCA Bench 81 and the second in PFC Bench 01.

The STS APS DGRIE is designated as a Semi-Clean class tool. Below is a list of approved materials for the tool. Approved means the material is allowed in the tool under normal circumstances. If a material is not listed, please create a helpdesk ticket or email for any material requests or questions.

Supported processes

The primary recipes for the STS Glass Etcher are used for deep oxide/quartz/silica etching. The uk submicron etch is designed for thin-film (up to 8 μm) etching of oxide. Feature sizes can range from 100 nm to a full wafer. The Fused silica etch is designed for deep etching of fused silica, quartz, and glass. More details on the supported processes can be found on the Processes page.

Standard operating procedure

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Checkout procedure

  1. Complete the sample mounting course. If you have already completed this for another tool, you do not need to complete it again.
  2. Read through this page and the Standard Operating Procedure above.
  3. Create a helpdesk ticket requesting training and attend an introductory training session with a tool engineer.
  4. Practice with your mentor or another authorized user until you are comfortable running the tool on your own.
  5. Schedule a checkout session with a tool engineer via the helpdesk ticket system. If this checkout is successful, the engineer will authorize you on the tool.


In order to provide reliable operating conditions, maintenance is performed weekly on the tool including inspecting and cleaning the chamber. The following regular maintenance is performed on the STS Pegasus 6:

  • Weekly
    • Inspect chamber
    • Wipe down chamber walls
    • Clean clamping ring
    • Clean process kit
    • Plasma clean and condition
  • Monthly
    • Check wafer centering
  • Annually
    • Clean source ceramics and upper chamber
    • Clean APC valve, foreline valve, baratron valve
  • Biennially
    • Refurbish turbo pump

After any chamber maintenance, the etch rate of the uk submicron etch is checked to verify the condition of the tool.To verify the condition of the tool The etch is run for 2 minutes on a 6" oxide coated wafer and the etch rate is measured in 25 locations. The average of this is shown below.