Semiconductor cleanrooms are the most demanding cleanrooms in the world. As photolithography linewidths go below 0.1 micron these cleanrooms are typically class 10 or class 100 cleanroom classification (ISO-4 or ISO-5). In addition, semiconductor cleanrooms have tight temperature and humidity requirements. These cleanrooms can vary in size from 500 S.F. to 500,000 S.F. In the United States the highest concentration of semiconductor manufacturing cleanrooms can be found in the Bay Area (Silicon Valley CA), Phoenix Arizona and Texas. Other large semiconductor producing countries include Taiwan, Korea, Japan and China.
Semiconductor cleanroom filtration
Semiconductor cleanrooms typically use ULPA filters instead of HEPA filters to stop even the smallest submicron particles from entering the cleanroom. HEPA filters catch 99.97% of particles at 0.3u. ULPA filters catch 99.999% of particles at 0.12u.
Semiconductor cleanroom lighting
Semiconductor cleanrooms are easily recognizable due the amber cleanroom lighting used in photolithography rooms. Normal white light would expose the photoresist that is used to pattern the semiconductor wafers. The photoresist is not sensitive to the wavelengths of the amber colored lights.
For class 100 and higher cleanrooms there is often 100% ULPA filter ceiling coverage to avoid having any area of cleanroom without vertical cleanroom air flow. Special teardrop cleanroom lights which mount between the ULPA filters on the t-grid are used to provide lighting in these cleanrooms.
Semiconductor cleanroom flooring
The two most common flooring used in semiconductor cleanrooms are static dissipative heat welded vinyl flooring or raised cleanroom flooring. The static dissipative heat welded vinyl flooring helps prevent ESD damage to semiconductor parts during manufacturing. Raised cleanroom flooring allows the ULPA filter air to travel vertically from the ULPA filters in the ceiling in straight path to below the flooring providing the best laminar flow possible. By comparison low wall air returns require the air to move horizontally from the center of the cleanroom to the walls returns.
Semiconductor Cleanroom HVAC
Due to extremely fine linewidths the manufacturing processes in semiconductor cleanrooms are very sensitive to temperature and humidity variations. Typical semiconductor cleanrooms require +1 degree Fahrenheit and +5% or 10% relative humidity. This requires dedicated air handler for each room with hot and cold elements. Most semiconductor cleanrooms have dedicated chiller and boiler to support the HVAC system.
Summary: Semiconductor cleanrooms are one of the most demanding cleanroom applications. They are typically class 10 or class 100 cleanroom classification with very tight temperature and humidity requirements. Unique features include amber tear drop cleanroom lighting, raised cleanroom flooring, and air showers.
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