Although at the cutting edge of technology, the semiconductor Industry has a growing obsolescence problem with spares for some expensive and vital equipment proving difficult to find. We take a look at one example, a PSU for an ion implant machine.
To those outside of the industry (and I’m no expert!), Ion implantation is the process by which ions of donor elements such as boron or phosphorus are blasted deep into wafers of silicon to alter its crystal structure and hence its conductivity characteristics as a part of the production of semiconductors. The implanting process creates the ‘N’ or ‘P’ type doped silicon areas that ultimately form the integrated circuits (ICs), chips and other electronic devices that we use today.
One older machine that we regularly see PSUs from is the Applied Materials 9500 Implanter. The Amat 9500 uses a series of DC power supplies to run various processes, but one of the most problematic PSU’s powers the positive flood charge system in the ion implanter. Producing just 5V DC but with a required maximum current output of 240 Amps, the original unit was prone to overheating and sometimes even the entire output stage melting under load. Many of the original supplies have suffered damage in the field that is beyond economic repair (BER), rendering once £2M machines inoperable. Downtime from a power supply failure like this can cost a semiconductor manufacturer a fortune in lost production! The OEM supply – Artesyn N1204-1XXX is now obsolete and difficult to find.
This is why DC power supply experts Advance Product Services Ltd (APS) in Harrogate, UK have manufactured a replacement solution. Many companies within the semiconductor industry have used APS to repair and refurbish all makes of DC Power Supplies for years now, but with more and more of the PSUs becoming BER, it became clear that a new replacement power supply would be needed. APS designed a replacement power supply with identical dimensions, fixing positions and electrical specifications. All control and warning signals are compatible with the original device; so it’s a worry-free, plug-and-play solution.
The design brief was quite simply – an identical plug and play solution! APS’s Technical Director Andy Turnbull explains
‘The problem was getting the required current output from such a small box without generating too much heat. With PSU design, the smaller the unit, the hotter it runs – and heat is the enemy of reliability’.
APS’ Engineering Team completely redesigned the unit including a new bus bar arrangement with a much lower resistance to keep the heat produced as low as possible. The output terminals remain in exactly the same location and have the same size connections as those on the original unit, so that modification of the implanter is not required to fit the new unit.
Once the first batch of units was manufactured, it was over to a friendly customer to evaluate the unit in the Applied Materials 9500 implant machine. After thorough testing, which confirmed its suitability they said,
‘We’ve tested in on several hundred wafers and it hasn’t missed a beat’, he said, ‘I see no difference between either supply.’
The original Artesyn unit was supplied and badged by a number of other manufacturers and distributors. The N1204-APS is now available to order from APS as a replacement for the following part numbers found in the field: Computer Products N1204-1XXX, Jeta N1204-1XXX, Artesyn N1204-1XXX, Artesyn 200011-563 6, Applied Materials 1140-90090, Bulgin 15256/000 & XP SGM1KPS05.