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HomeAppleiPad Professional with OLED could also be dearer due to dry etching

iPad Professional with OLED could also be dearer due to dry etching

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Apple is rumored to deliver OLED shows to the iPad Professional by 2024, manufactured utilizing a way referred to as dry etching to make sure the screens stay as skinny as potential. Sadly, this may also doubtless make these iPads dearer. Here is why.

If the report about OLED iPad Professional fashions is taken at face worth it might imply that Samsung might be a producer chargeable for producing the shows. The corporate did provide OLED panels for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13. Nonetheless, the report offered no sources aside from saying “Apple confirms.”

Dry etching is just not new. The U.S. Patent Workplace granted a patent to Samsung in 2004 for a dry etching equipment.

The patent describes a vacuum chamber the place the etching takes place, a “chuck” that holds the substrate, and one other half referred to as a “baffle plate” that encloses the chuck and discharges the merchandise used for etching. Whether or not Samsung nonetheless makes use of this specific equipment is unknown, however vacuum chambers are vital through the dry etching course of because of the plasma.

Varieties of etching

Samsung describes moist etching as low-cost, quick, and easy. Dry etching wafers is extra exact and fewer vulnerable to contamination however is pricey and complicated. Thus, if Samsung makes use of this technique for producing OLED screens, it might improve the iPad’s worth.

Etching is a course of that removes undesirable materials from a wafer, which is also called a “slice” or “substrate.” Wafers are manufactured from semiconducting materials corresponding to crystalline silicon and are used within the fabrication of built-in circuits and photo voltaic cells.

Dry etching makes use of gaseous chemical substances or plasmas to take away supplies from a wafer, whereas moist etching makes use of liquid chemical substances, corresponding to solvents and acids. Each strategies have advantages and disadvantages.

Moist etching

A wafer is submerged in sure chemical substances throughout moist etching, relying on its materials. For instance, buffered hydrofluoric acid is usually used with silicon wafers.

Like every manufacturing course of, there are waste streams. Hydroflouric acid and the supplies dissolved within the run-off from manufacturing have to be appropriately disposed of to forestall water contamination. As well as, the solvent might take away extra materials from the wafer than is right.

Comparing wet etching and dry etching

Evaluating moist etching and dry etching

In Samsung’s chart, “Etching beneath PR” discovered beneath moist etching refers back to the photoresist, a cloth delicate to mild that adjustments its properties throughout photograph lithography. The result’s intricate circuits on the skinny movie transistor (TFT) that the show itself is utilized to.

Samsung and different producers use moist etching for Apple’s current OLED provide for the iPhone.

Dry etching

A producing different is dry etching, which is extra exact and might take away substrate supplies in several shapes than moist etching.

Dry etching is usually utilized in very massive scale integration (VLSI) processes that produce built-in circuits. There are a number of strategies in dry etching, corresponding to isotropic radial etching, reactive ion etching, sputter etching, and ion milling. The intricacies of every are past the scope of this text, and differ primarily based on how the method removes semiconductor supplies from the wafer.

All variants of dry etching processes use plasma, which is why dry etching is also known as plasma etching. Ion milling and sputter etching use a beam of ions to eject or vaporize materials bodily.

Samsung’s article describes plasma etching, the place gasoline is injected into the vacuum chamber containing the wafers and energized to develop into plasma. Then, ions that achieve excessive kinetic power are beamed onto the wafer to take away semiconductor materials.

A wafer and its circuitry before, during, and after etching

A wafer and its circuitry earlier than, throughout, and after etching

In each forms of etching, the photoresist acts as a protecting movie for the circuit sample through the etching course of. After etching, solely layers coated with PR for use because the circuit are left on the glass substrate. All different supplies are eliminated.


Whereas dry etching is not strictly new, it is not utilized in a lot at current.

In 2021, Gerald Yin, chairman of Chinese language semiconductor gear firm AMEC, mentioned the corporate’s plasma etching gear was getting used in a buyer’s 5nm chip manufacturing.

AMEC did not reveal the shopper, however on the time the one ones able to 5nm mass manufacturing have been TSMC and Samsung, two firms which have served as producers for Apple. In June 2022, TSMC posted a job itemizing for a “Dry Etching Course of Engineering Supervisor” at its 5nm fab in Arizona.

Samsung’s patent says {that a} dry etching equipment utilizing plasma is appropriate for fabricating circuits with a width of 0.15 micrometers or much less. The corporate concludes that dry etching is the popular technique for high-resolution shows.

The Apple provide chain will doubtless hold utilizing the moist etching course of for iPhone and Apple Watch. It is a cheaper resolution that produces a show nonetheless lighter than an LED display with the next high quality, at a comparatively low worth.

Dry etching is healthier merchandise with massive OLED shows. The method prices extra however its precision is useful for these massive shows the place weight is an element.



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