Hamed Sadeghian
Nearfield Instruments

Session 1: 13 April 2021

15:30 – 16:00 hours

System architecture of Quadra: high-throughput 3D metrology equipment for semiconductor process control

In the semiconductor industry, Moore’s law comes with increasing and complex demands and the need for advanced process control metrology. Nearfield Instruments fulfilled these needs with their high-throughput scanning probe metrology (HT-SPM) systems. By rigorously adhering to an agile approach architecting and engineering methodology and promoting the concept of a minimum viable product, Nearfield Instruments developed, integrated, tested, and subsequently shipped their first QUADRA to a leading semiconductor fab.

Nearfield Instruments designed the mechatronics architecture of QUADRA to fulfill three high-level requirements:

  • Meeting extremely tight performance requirements of semiconductor process control, suitable for high-aspect-ratio, dense 3D structures (Logic, DRAM, and 3DNAND).
  • Increasing the throughput of scanning probe metrology to a level that constructs a significant lever in the semiconductor production line.
  • Full automation of the system with interface to the factory control software or manufacturing execution systems.

Besides meeting the above high-level requirements, QUADRA’s architecture should balance the system’s performance, manufacturability, and serviceability. The architecture’s modularity also impacts spare parts strategy, scalability to be used as a platform for future products, and last but not least, cost of ownership of the system, including the required fab space.

Another vital aspect of the development was software architecture, which must support overall machine development aligned with the hardware architecture. This architecture resulted in several division layers, from the lowest layer for real-time control to the top layer, the machine control layer, to coordinate all systems’ functions.

To successfully develop and introduce a highly complex system like QUADRA, careful consideration of our resources and what we also need to outsource from the existing high-tech industrial landscape was necessary.

In this talk, the following topics will be presented:

  • Major requirements for product development in the semiconductor industry
  • Architecture of QUADRA (including software) and faced challenges and solutions
  • Impact of the system architecture on outsourcing strategy to high tech supply chain

Dr. Hamed Sadeghian:

Hamed Sadeghian received his PhD (Cum Laude) in 2010 from Delft University of Technology. Four years later he received an MBA degree from the Vlerick Business School in Belgium. He is the founder (2001) of Jahesh Poulad Co., a manufacturer of mechanical equipment.

Hamed worked as a system architect and leaded a team of thirty researchers in nano-optomechatronics instrumentation at TNO in Delft from 2011 to 2018. He was also appointed as a principal scientist and Kruyt member of TNO. In 2016 he co-founded Nearfield Instruments and is currently president & chief technology officer at this scale-up that recently sold its first metrology instrument to a high-end chip manufacturer.

Hamed Sadeghian is a part time associate Professor at the Technical University of Eindhoven. He holds more than 70 patents, and published over 100 peer-reviewed technical papers.