Investigations of fast vacuum pump-down processes between parallel isothermal disks

Dongchi Yu, Yuan Ma

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


To obtain optimal system throughput for semiconductor device fabrications, fast vacuum pump-down operations are frequently performed to quickly depressurize processing chambers for desirable pressure conditions. However, sudden and drastic temperature variations could occur at the beginning of a fast vacuum pump-down session, resulting in catastrophic consequences such as thermal shock and condensation-induced contamination, profoundly disturbing the otherwise well-conditioned mini-environment. To this end, the vacuum pump-down processes taking place between a pair of parallel isothermal disks resembling typical industrial applications (e.g., high-throughput load lock) are investigated by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation and space-invariant theoretical modeling. It is discovered that the gas temperature first drops rapidly in a manner resembling isentropic gas expansion, and then quickly recovers at a rate governed by the pumping speed and a near-constant Nusselt number. In addition, it is discovered that attenuated temperature variations can be achieved with smaller disk separations and lower pumping speeds. Furthermore, a new empirical formula is proposed to calculate the Nusselt number based on a normalized time parameter, which not only better reflects the heat-transfer characteristics during pump-down than its well-known counterparts based on the Rayleigh number, but also enable efficient evaluations of various pump-down configurations with the space-invariant theoretical modeling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Semiconductor Manufacturing
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


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