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What is Cyber Instruments?

Several years ago Cyber Instruments was started to investigate the possibility of bringing pressure based flow technology to the Semiconductor industry. Several Senior Executives with numerous years of experience in the Semiconductor Capital Equipment industry formed a small LLC to design next generation pressure based mass flow technology. Concepts were developed, and proof of concept devices were made to prove the principles involved. Because of existing conditions in the financial arena the company was never launched as a full blown manufacturing operation. The Technology, fully patented in the US, is viable for application in the Semiconductor industry, as well as for other industries such as Medical Instrumentation, Petrochemical, and Pharmaceutical industries.

We seek a partner to help get this Technology to market. This could be in the form of:

  • Financial assistance in developing Cyber Instruments manufacturing operations
  • Licensing agreements for companies with existing manufacturing capabilities
  • Outright sale of the Patents and existing Intellectual Property

The following characteristics best describe status of existing gas delivery technologies:

  • Calibration drift causing process instabilities
  • Requirements for expensive in-house and field calibration capabilities
  • Requirements for large and costly inventories to cover all ranges and gas types
  • Inability of supply chain to react to last minute customer specification changes
  • Excessive hardware cost associated with complete gas panel designs
  • Financially stressed suppliers unable to develop alternate technologies 

Cyber Instruments Technology has developed solutions:

  • Simple gas delivery technology that is NOT gas type dependent
  • Operates over a wide range, with high accuracy
  • Is supply and process pressure insensitive
  • Replaces current gas stick technology, not just the MFC
  •  Performs real time, in-situ self calibration while processing
  • Requires no expensive factory or field calibration facilities, or gas specific calibrations
  • Provides predictive maintenance in place of inaccurate preventive maintenance schedules
  • Can be manufactured for approximately 50% of the cost of current technology
  •  Is proprietary - protected by patents in the US, and several other key countries

Executive Summary

Cyber Instruments Technology products are the first innovative devices to provide a complete solution for the gas delivery market in the last 25 years. They offer significant advantages for the OEM by reducing inventories by tens of millions of dollars, reducing part numbers by orders of magnitude, simplifying and reducing design variations, while providing shorter build cycles and product lead time.  Greater performance enhances process precision and reliability, allowing the OEM to reduce equipment installation and set-up time, and guarantee process results without incurring down time penalties imposed by the End Users.  Benefits to the End Users are measured by lower cost of ownership (CoO) and higher overall equipment efficiency (OEE) that result from simpler designs, robust construction, more reliable basic instrumentation, and lower maintenance costs. The total market for these devices is $1.3B annually.

The cost of lost wafer loss related to current technology gas panel malfunctions is estimated at $1.4B. Cyber Instruments’ technology can prevent approximately 70% of these lost wafers. Cyber Instruments technology will also reduce the costs associated with purchasing, maintaining, carrying spare parts inventory and downtime by approximately 25% over conventional technology.  This could amount to over $315M in savings to the industry with broad acceptance of Cyber Instruments technology.

Cyber Instruments Technology products are next generation, pressure based mass flow systems. Simpler in construction and smaller in component count, a Cyber Gas Stick is designed to replace all of the individual components found in a single channel of gas panels currently used in semiconductor and other manufacturing process tools. This innovative and less expensive integrated platform replaces the function of the individual input and output shutoff valves, line pressure regulators, line pressure transducers, thermal MFCs, and many of the high integrity metal seal components.

This system contains a differential pressure based mass flow controller with a built-in self-calibration system that performs real-time, in-situ calibration of all gas flow operations, making it gas type independent.  The implications of this are that specific gas calibrations are not required, and the system will accurately control the flow of any gas or gas mixture at the required set points.  This eliminates the need to switch out MFC’s prior to shipment because of End User changes in the gas type requirement.

Our innovative differential pressure based flow devices employ transducer technology that has demonstrated proven reliability for years and is utilized for other applications in semiconductor manufacturing systems.  The inherent characteristics of these devices make them significantly more accurate than thermal measurement techniques employed by MFC’s. They operate with greater accuracy over several decades of measurement and with faster response and settling times. The dynamic range of the Cyber Instruments Technology devices are at least twenty times greater than the range of current thermal based MFC’s.  Performance over a turn down ratio of 100 to 1 has been demonstrated.

Typical flow accuracy specified by current technology devices is usually 1% of  Full Scale for the device, but 2% of Full Scale is the typical accuracy experienced by industry experts.  Variations from manufacturer to manufacturer are even greater. Inaccuracies can be attributed to aging effects of the windings in the sensor, clogging of the flow bypass restrictor, ambient temperature variation, zero drift, and many other design artifacts. In addition, only a small percentage of the actual flow is measured by the capillary tube, and the total flow through the device is inferred by an act of faith that the flow ratio is known and that it never changes. The Cyber Instruments Technology device operates at better than 0.5% of Reading, offering significantly higher performance, and 100% of the gas flow is measured by the device, which eliminates the errors caused by the inferred system of thermal MFC’s. This device has been successfully tested with inlet pressure variations of three to one, with no detectable degradation in performance.  This eliminates the need to install expensive and unreliable pressure regulators in each gas flow channel within a gas panel. The overall design incorporates simpler flow paths, and whetted surfaces are made entirely of stainless steel.  The one piece body construction eliminates many of the expensive metal seal interfaces, further reducing cost and increasing reliability. 

The greater range and accuracy, coupled with gas type independence, greatly reduces the number of unique devices required to cover the entire scope of gas types and flow ranges used by semiconductor manufacturing processes.  Several thousand thermal MFC parts can be replaced with no more than 5 unique Cyber Instruments Technology part types.  This virtually eliminates the need to carry large inventories of backup thermal MFC devices, which saves both OEM’s and End Users tens of millions of dollars in inventory carrying costs.  This feature also virtually eliminates the need to rebuild and retest gas box assemblies just prior to shipment to satisfy last minute customer requirement changes, further reducing the cost of manufacturing the process tool. 

Service requirement for the Cyber Instruments Technology devices consist of a calibrated pressure transducer and a portable computer.  Service testing consists of a single, simple measurements that can be made in-situ.  This feature virtually eliminates the need to set up expensive calibration facilities located near all major fabs since no specific gas calibrations are required. Greater reliability, simpler operation, and elimination of gas specific calibrations eliminate over 80% of current maintenance associated costs.

The device can be realized in a 1-1/8 inch max width form factor to insure compatibility with today’s standard spacing.  Interfaces can be provided that are compatible with all advanced on-tool interface protocols.  Predictive maintenance and failure analysis further reduces down time and increase tool utilization.  The design can also be implemented in a format that is backward compatible and will interface to existing MFC and other gas panel interface signals.

A Proof of Concept (POC) device was developed to substantiate the claims of the Cyber Instruments Technology patents. The demonstrated performance exceeded the objectives. In order to check the gas type independent operation of the POC, it was operated with several gases of different mass and other properties.  The algorithms developed to operate the system were debugged and modified only slightly from their original design.  Performance data were taken, including accuracy measurements, and the ability to calibrate true mass flow for multiple gases was demonstrated. A comparison of thermal MFC based flow control vs. Cyber Instruments Technology products is summarized below:

Feature Thermal and other Pressure Based Gas Delivery Systems Cyber Instruments Differential Pressure Based Gas Delivery Systems
Gas Dependency Gas specific.  Must be calibrated for each gas.  Newer digital based Thermal MFCs use multiple internal gas calibration curves at premium price.  Works over very limited range None. Will self calibrate to any gas or gas mixture.
Range 100% to 20% of Full Scale.  Turn down ratio of 5:1. 100% to 1% of full scale in POC. No attempt has been made to optimize performance yet
Accuracy 1-2% of Full scale,  and only rated down to about 10% of full scale. 1% of Reading, down to 1% of full scale.  Can be rated as % of set point. 
Pressure Dependency Not rated.  Calibrations are performed at specified inlet and/or outlet pressures for high accuracy applications

.5% of Reading, 1800T to 4800T

.2% of FS, 1800T to 4800T

The Technology is protected by issued U.S. Patents No. 6,119, 710 and 6,216,726, Taiwan Patent 468101, Singapore Patent P-No. 83934 (WO 00/73868) and UK Patents GB2365980, GB2381589, and GB2373054 “Method For Wide Range Gas Flow System With Real Time Flow Measurement And Correction”.  The Technology has been approved and documented by the Patent Conference Treaty.