Semiconductor Wafer Conveyor System

Semiconductor wafers are both very expensive and very fragile, which makes their conveyance through industrial automation systems a challenge. Excessive shock, vibration, or contamination from airborne particles could result in millions of dollars in product losses. This risk is managed by transporting them within sealed containers known as Front Opening Unified Ports or Front Opening Universal Pods (FOUPs) over high-precision conveyers.

Nuvation Engineering developed control circuitry and software for transporting wafer-filled FOUPs down a conveyor. The solution safely transports semiconductor wafers at speeds of up to 2 metres per second by dynamically controlling conveyor speed around corners and implementing laser guidance to stop the FOUP within one millimeter of its target position. The Nuvation Engineering solution includes DSP- and FPGA-driven controls that execute custom algorithms over a dedicated high-reliability and low-latency EtherCAT network.

Industrial Automation Semiconductor Wafer System

Design Features:

  • Real-time work-in-progress inventory management with FOUP tracking and control
  • Custom algorithms
  • Multi-PCB system
  • Distributed, real-time, synchronous motor control
  • Machine vision
  • Networking of up to 10,000 nodes over a high-reliability EtherCAT network
  • Altera Cyclone-III FPGA design for position detection
  • Freescale MCU
  • TI F2812 DSP node controller
  • Wind River VxWorks RTOS
  • Designed for offshore production
  • Project was completed from concept to deployment in less than 6 months

Services Provided: