Solving Molecular Imperfections in Semiconductor Materials and Processes using FTIR

Solving Molecular Imperfections in Semiconductor Materials and Processes using FTIR

In the fast-paced world of semiconductor processing and production, yield is the name of the game. As more and more of our daily life relies on products that use semiconductor technology, industry demands continuous improvement in performance and yield to consistently deliver high-quality products to meet the ever-growing demand. To achieve this, we rely on a wide array of advanced techniques to develop and optimize semiconductor processes, one of which stands out is Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) analysis. In this blog post, I want to shed light on the invaluable role of FTIR analysis techniques in our industry and how they enable us to maintain the high standards of quality and reliability that our customers depend on.

Understanding FTIR Analysis:

FTIR analysis is a powerful analytical technique that has revolutionized our approach to semiconductor manufacturing. This method allows us to analyze the interaction between light and matter in an entirely unique way. Instead of relying on simple absorption or transmission measurements, FTIR utilizes the Fourier transform technique to convert the data into a spectral format. This spectral data holds a wealth of information about the composition, structure, and properties of materials at the molecular level. This level of granularity is essential in our line of work, where even the tiniest imperfections can result in product failure.

Quality Control and Defect Identification:

In semiconductor production, quality control is paramount. Even the smallest defects can lead to costly recalls, delays, and damage to our customer’s reputation. FTIR analysis helps us to identify defects and impurities at a level of detail that was previously impossible. By examining the unique spectral signatures of materials, we can pinpoint the exact causes of issues in their processes. Whether it’s the presence of contaminants, variations in chemical composition, or defects in thin films, FTIR allows us to trace the root of the problem so that our customers can swiftly take corrective action.

Process Optimization:

Continuous improvement is key to maintaining a competitive edge in our industry. At Cerium, we frequently use FTIR to identify unknown compounds and contaminants found in process tools. Using our NicPlan microscope accessory, we can examine microscopic particles and residues measuring >50um. Additionally, we can measure the interstitial oxygen content of silicon wafers, epitaxial film thicknesses, hydrogen and water in silicon oxide, silicon nitride and BPSG films as well as the degree of cure in polymer films by FTIR.  By providing real-time data on material properties, our FTIR analytical results empower our customers to optimize their processes. As their processes evolve, we can identify changes in spectral data through routine FTIR monitoring so that they can fine-tune their operations for improved efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and yield. This level of insight allows our customers to push the boundaries of what’s possible in semiconductor production while keeping a tight grip on quality control.

Material Characterization:

Semiconductor materials come in a wide variety of forms, and FTIR analysis is an invaluable tool for characterizing these materials. From analyzing crystal structures and chemical bonds to assessing the thickness of thin films, FTIR provides a comprehensive understanding of the materials used in semiconductor processing and production.  This knowledge is crucial for suppliers developing new materials that will give them a competitive edge while also ensuring new products and materials compatibility with their existing processes.

Environmental Impact:

In addition to its technical advantages, FTIR analysis supports our customer commitment to sustainability. By fine-tuning their processes and reducing waste through better quality control and process optimization, customers can minimize their environmental footprint. The data provided by FTIR analysis helps our customers make informed decisions that align with their environmental responsibility goals.


I can confidently say that FTIR analysis techniques have become an indispensable part of our support for companies within the semiconductor industry, from material suppliers and OEMs to manufacturers. Their ability to provide a deeper understanding of materials and processes, their role in quality control and defect identification, their contribution to process optimization, and their support for sustainability all underscore the immense value FTIR analysis brings to our industry. In an ever-evolving field where precision is the cornerstone of success, FTIR analysis has become a beacon of innovation, empowering us to support our customers as they continually push the boundaries of what’s possible in semiconductor production. As an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory,  Cerium Laboratories assures our clients that test methods have been validated and their data has passed various quality checks.  For more information on how our FTIR analyses can help you with material characterization and manufacturing control, please contact us at