Linde Gases has announced the signing of a significant long term supply contract with SK Hynix to deliver on-site fluorine to multiple mass production sites in Korea.

The expansion of Linde’s patented on-site F2 technology to these facilities follows successful implementations on all SK Hynix’s production sites since 2004.

SK Hynix, a world-leading manufacturer of DRAM and NAND flash memories, has adopted on-site F2 as a safer and more cost-effective alternative to cylinder fluorine for cleaning Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) chambers in its manufacturing process.

This expansion in F2 adoption will contribute to Hynix’s manufacturing efficiency savings and also help reduce their manufacturing carbon footprint.

Carl Jackson, Head of Fluorine Business at Linde Gases Division, said, “We’re proud to have such a long and successful relationship with SK Hynix, and we look forward to continuing to work together to help the company improve the cost effectiveness and environmental efficiency of its manufacturing processes even further.”

SK Hynix has been actively working to expand the range of processes for which they use on-site fluorine and have been investigating switching from NF3 to fluorine for chamber cleaning on single wafer process tools.

NF3 is a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential (GWP) 17,200 times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2), whereas F2 is the highest performance cleaning gas available, with zero GWP.

The initial work is completed and was presented at the recent Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference (ASMC) held in the USA. The results show reductions in total cleaning time of up to 40% and in the mass of gas used of 35%, which for one type of tool alone could mean the elimination of more than 6.5 tons NF3 per year if implemented in production.

Chang Hyun Oh, ESH R&D Centre Manager at SK Hynix said, “There is a clear technical, environmental and business case for us to use Linde’s market-leading on-site F2 technology across as many applications as possible. It plays a critical role in helping us meet our targets for better environmental efficiency and safety, and it enables us to reduce the cost of our manufacturing process. We will continue to develop new cleaning processes using fluorine on more tool platforms.”

Linde’s on-site F2 technology is fast becoming the industry standard cleaning method across semiconductor, TFT-LCD and photovoltaics industries, as manufacturers are increasingly switching to F2 due to concerns over the environmental impact of NF3 and potential legislation that could restrict its use in the future.