Back in 1981, Lam pioneered single-wafer plasma etch tools with its first product, the Lam AutoEtch 480 plasma etcher. Introduced as “a streamlined plasma etching system designed specifically for highly automated dry etching in VLSI production,” the AutoEtch delivered high throughput, reliability, and processing flexibility.
A key feature of the AutoEtch 480 was the unique Recipe Programming Module, which eliminated the complex array of knobs, dials, and buttons that process engineers used to have to deal with. Initially released for polysilicon etch applications, the AutoEtch series eventually included systems for etching oxide, aluminum, silicides, and other materials.
The AutoEtch product family set the industry standard for many years. It was succeeded by the Rainbow® etch system, one of which is on display at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California. Today, Lam remains the leading supplier of etch process solutions to the semiconductor industry.