SONOSYS was founded in 1995 and since specializes in high frequency ultrasonic solutions, called Megasonics. The Germany-based company provides its solutions mainly for semiconductor cleaning and etching tasks, but also to the optics, MEMS and even food industries.

Interview with Ralf Emberger, Managing Director at SONOSYS Ultraschallsysteme GmbH.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

Ralf Emberger: Megasonic cleaning solutions are mainly used in wet cleaning process steps in the semiconductor production. Whether as an auxiliary or main step, the cleaning of wafers, photomasks or generally substrates, has become a major challenge over the last years due to always smaller node sizes and high(er) demands for no or low rate of pattern damages. Our Megasonic solutions are designed to address these challenges for either single or batch substrate cleaning and are usually integrated into larger wet-processing tools. We ship our solutions worldwide, with a focus on Europe and Asia. 

E.E: What’s the news about new products?

R.E: In 2022 we have released a triple nozzle for the combination of 3 frequency channels in one nozzle housing for advanced single substrate cleaning. The channels can be used individually or combined and hence offer a wide range of operability. On top, the maximum frequency with the nozzles could be increased to 9MHz instead of 5MHz before.

Another development is the transition from our analog MLM series (Megasonic nozzle systems) to a digital version. This new generator version will provide pulsed mode operation, intuitive LCD based front panel and Ethernet connectivity. Still, it will be downward compatible with existing nozzles, which allows for a smooth transition. Field tests with this version are planned for mid of 2023. 

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

R.E: We offer solutions for both single and batch cleaning. The first is addressed by our Megasonic nozzle systems and the second by transducer plates integrated into a tank or as mobile version to upgrade an existing tank (submersible transducer). Frequency-wise we start at 400kHz and go up to 2MHz with the transducer plates and up to 9MHz with the nozzle systems. Any system operates at a chosen frequency and the power can be adjusted in a wide range to address the needs of the particular process. 

On top, we offer a range of nebulizers and atomizers for coating or nebulizing applications, partly based on Megasonics and partly on ultrasonics excitation. 

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

R.E: The semiconductor market as our main market is a technically mature market with well-known technologies and processes. Of course, in this high-tech environment new developments and cutting-edge technology are self-evident. We have been a reliable partner to the customers of this industry for more than two decades now. 

Other markets, like the optics industry or food industry are using Megasonics only additionally and often on a lab or experimental basis, so that I would consider that as a niche market for us.

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

R.E: Well during the pandemic there became a tremendous demand for Semiconductors in general apparent, that has then been addressed by ramp ups and investment by global players in this field internationally. Even now, that some demands are well served meanwhile (e.g. personal computer, webcam, memory, etc.), others are still in lack of full demand coverage, e.g. the automotive industry. This, combined with the several “chip acts” announced by Europe, the USA and others, is driving the markets to larger capacities.

Another trend in technology is the always smaller node sizes down to 2nm now addressed by the large chip manufacturers. This small node sizes come with a number of technical challenges and demands. 

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?

R.E: Currently the mentioned triple nozzle system with frequencies up to 9MHz. In the second half of 2023 we hope to be able to launch the digital MLM with pulsed mode and ethernet interface fully to the market.

E.E: What estimations do you have for the rest of 2022?

R.E: Mainly answered by 6. and 7. Our estimation is that business will continue to be on a high level based on the global demand. Innovation will always be necessary to keep up with the rapid pace in this industry and be addressed continuously in our company.