Spin Coater

A Spin Coater is used to apply the photoresist onto the surface of the wafer. The photoresist is used to transfer a pattern onto the wafer. The photoresist reacts to ultraviolet light and the material properties are changed by this process.

The wafer is initially heated to a temperature sufficient to drive off any moisture that may be present on the wafer surface. Wafers that have been in storage must be chemically cleaned to remove contamination. A liquid or gaseous “adhesion promoter”, such as Bis(trimethylsilyl)amine (“hexamethyldisilazane”, HMDS), is applied to promote adhesion of the photoresist to the wafer. The phrase “adhesion promoter” is in fact incorrect, as the surface layer of Silicondioxide on the wafer reacts with the agent to form Methylated Silicon-hydroxide, a highly water repellent layer not unlike the layer of wax on a car’s paint. This water repellent layer prevents the aqueous developer from penetrating between the photoresist layer and the wafer’s surface, thus preventing so-called lifting of small photoresist structures in the (developing) pattern.

(“PR”) by spin coating. A viscous, liquid solution of photoresist is dispensed onto the wafer, and the wafer is spun rapidly to produce a uniformly thick layer. The spin coating typically runs at 1200 to 4800 rpm for 30 to 60 seconds, and produces a layer between 0.5 and 2.5 micrometres thick. The spincoating process results in an amazingly uniform thin layer, usually with an uniformity within 5 to 10 nanometers. This uniformity can be explained by detailed fluid-mechanical modelling, which shows that essentially the resist moves much faster at the top of the layer than at the bottom, where viscous forces bind the resist to the wafer surface. Thus, the top layer of resist is quickly ejected from the wafer’s edge while the bottom layer still creeps slowly radially along the wafer. In this way, any ‘bump’ or ‘ridge’ of resist is removed, leaving a very flat layer. Final thickness is also determined by the evaporation of liquid solvents from the resist.