A semiconductor manufacturing facility

How to Reach Semiconductor Emissions Goals with FTIR

September 12, 2023

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) technology is nothing new. Made possible thanks to the Michelson interferometer (invented by Albert Abraham Michelson, who would go on to win the Nobel Prize in 1907 for his accurate measurements of the wavelengths of light), FTIR technology has been used by companies for more than three decades to measure the emissions of various greenhouse gases. Likewise, FTIR technology has also been utilized in numerous military applications to determine materials content.

Due to their complex gas streams, semiconductor companies are some of the largest supporters of FTIR technology. And in the face of an ever-demanding regulatory environment, our clients in the semiconductor industry are realizing how invaluable FTIR truly is.

FTIR in the semiconductor industry

The semiconductor manufacturing process necessitates the use of various perfluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons, along with nitrogen trifluoride and sulfur hexafluoride, for etching and chemical vapor deposition chamber cleaning. To reduce or eliminate the release of these gases, companies install point of use (POU) abatement systems and use FTIR for real-time, on-site analyses that measure how effective these systems are at controlling emissions. A system’s rate of efficiency for doing so is known as its destruction removal efficiency (DRE).

The EPA continues to expand upon its requirements on current methods (e.g., Method 1, Method 2, and Method 320) to hold semiconductor manufacturers more accountable to increasingly strict regulations involving greenhouse gas emissions. The prevailing opinion throughout the semiconductor industry is that testing requirements for emissions will become more frequent—and require more granular levels of detail.

Adding another layer of complexity, the regulated gases in the semiconductor industry are particularly challenging to measure. Fortunately, FTIR technology has a proven track record as a dependable technology for measuring complex gas streams quickly and accurately.

Benefits of FTIR technology in the semiconductor industry

While FTIR is beneficial in determining DRE from POU systems, it can also be used as an instrument for compliance and engineering measurements on other existing abatement systems such as wet scrubbers, regenerative thermal oxidizers, and more.

For current Montrose semiconductor clients, FTIR is a preferred technology due to the wide array of compounds it can quantify from our extensive spectral library. Specifically designed FTIRs can handle a wide range of concentrations (ppm to % levels) and allows end users to get results in real-time with greater precision and accuracy.

Cost savings

With FTIR, several types of gases can be measured with a single analyzer. This eliminates the need for multiple test methods and reduces the size of onsite crews. Beyond compliance and engineering testing, the real-time aspect of FTIR testing allows end users to optimize abatement equipment on-site without having to ship equipment offsite.

Time savings

FTIR technology provides continuous, real-time measurements on site. With other testing methods, samples must be sent to a lab and processed up to three weeks before results are provided. For Montrose clients, FTIR testing can be conducted within two to four hours after our team’s arrival. And our clients know whether they’re compliant before our team leaves.

Regulatory compliance

FTIR technology provides appropriate detection limits and emissions data quantification to meet stringent requirements. In the simplest terms, the FTIR works by taking “photographs” of spectra and saves those spectra for data validation, which is a critical step to ensure the highest quality and precision measurements. Montrose keeps raw spectral data on file for our clients for verification with third-party software.

For the greenhouse gas emissions in the semiconductor industry, it is the ideal tool for most regulatory compliance goals that a site has. The greenhouse gases within the EPA methods are arduous to measure and the FTIR is one of few instruments that can quantify these gases well.

How Montrose can assist companies in the semiconductor industry with FTIR

Montrose operates more than 30 FTIR systems throughout North America and has performed thousands of compliance tests following both EPA and ASTM methodology. We have the trained chemists capable of conducting FTIR tests at the speed and frequency required to meet your facility’s regulatory requirements.

Montrose can review your existing FTIR program, assist with system installs, help create and implement an active FTIR sampling strategy to facilitate baseline data sets for abatement system efficiencies. Learn more about our FTIR services and how you can take proactive action to stay ahead of a fast-growing regulatory landscape in the semiconductor industry.

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