A Day in the Life of an Etch fab Engineer

The sun painted the sky with hues of pink and orange as Rajesh stepped into the state-of-the-art VLSI fab. He knew that every day brought a new challenge, but this particular morning carried an air of urgency. As he sipped his morning chai, an alert on his phone caught his attention - a troubling anomaly during the etching process on advanced 7nm wafers.


The sun rises over the bustling city of Bangalore as Rajesh, an experienced Etch Engineer, begins his day with a steaming cup of chai. As he checks his emails and messages, he notices an urgent notification from the fab’s automated system. The alert indicates an anomaly during the etching process on a batch of advanced 7nm wafers.

Feeling a rush of adrenaline, Rajesh quickly dresses in his cleanroom suit and makes his way to the fab floor. He takes a moment to gather his thoughts, knowing that even a small hiccup during the etching process can have significant implications for production schedules and costs.

Upon reaching the affected etch tool, Rajesh meticulously inspects the wafers. The etch process is a critical step in semiconductor manufacturing, where precise material removal is essential for creating the intricate patterns that form the basis of advanced integrated circuits.

To his dismay, Rajesh observes irregular etch patterns on several wafers, indicating a potential misalignment of the mask or a malfunction in the etch machine. This deviation from the expected results puts the entire batch at risk of being scrapped, causing substantial financial losses for the fab.

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Rajesh assembles his team of skilled technicians and process engineers for an emergency meeting. Together, they review the real-time data from the affected etch tool and brainstorm potential causes. They meticulously analyze the process parameters, gas flow rates, pressure, and other critical factors that could affect the etch performance.

Based on their observations, they suspect that the issue might be related to the mask alignment. One of the team members recalls that the mask was replaced last night, and it is possible that the alignment wasn’t precisely calibrated during the changeover.

With this lead, the team decides to proceed with a plan. They initiate a recalibration process, carefully aligning the mask with the wafer chuck. However, recalibrating the mask is a delicate and time-consuming task that requires precise adjustments to ensure optimal etch performance.


As the clock ticks, Rajesh’s team works diligently to recalibrate the mask. They meticulously perform the intricate steps, using advanced metrology tools to verify the alignment accuracy. In the meantime, Rajesh keeps the fab manager and the production team updated about the situation.

The tension in the fab is palpable as the production schedule hangs in the balance. The potential loss of an entire batch of advanced wafers is a significant concern for the fab’s management, and Rajesh’s team is under pressure to resolve the issue quickly and accurately.

After several attempts, the team starts to see some positive results in the etch patterns of the test wafers. The recalibration efforts are showing promising signs of success, but Rajesh knows that they cannot let their guard down until the entire batch meets the stringent quality standards.


As the evening approaches, Rajesh and his team successfully complete the recalibration process. The etch patterns on the test wafers now match the desired specifications, indicating that the issue has been resolved.

Relieved yet cautious, Rajesh contacts the production team to share the good news. With the recalibrated mask in place, they can now cautiously resume the etching process for the entire batch of wafers.

As the final wafers are processed, Rajesh and his team carefully monitor the results to ensure consistency and uniformity. Once the last wafer emerges from the etch tool, with the desired patterns intact, a collective sigh of relief spreads across the fab floor.

Exhausted but triumphant, Rajesh heads home with a sense of accomplishment. He knows that tomorrow will bring new challenges, but he also understands that working in the VLSI fab is a constant learning experience. Each problem they encounter strengthens their expertise and contributes to the growth of India’s semiconductor industry. As he drifts off to sleep, Rajesh looks forward to the new day and the endless possibilities it holds for innovation and advancement in semiconductor technology.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team
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