Generating Air Ionization With No Contaminating Particles


High Technology manufacturing employs air ionizers to reduce the effects of static charge. In cleanrooms the dominant issue is contamination reduction by eliminating electrostatic attraction. Conventionally, air ionization is generated by corona from needle electrodes, but there are particles generated by this process and removing the debris collected on the needle electrodes represents a significant maintenance issue. In the past, particles generated by ionizers have been too small to affect the manufacturing process, but this is no longer true. The latest small structures on the wafer have reached the limit where these particles will harm the product. This paper discusses the mechanism for particle creation and presents a design which creates no particles. The maintenance issue has lead to the use of complex ionizers that employ a sheath of air to shield the corona electrodes from the air in the cleanroom and the associated airborne molecular contaminants (AMCs). The new technology which eliminates particle generation also eliminates the need to clean the ionizers and reduces or eliminates the amount of air required to operate the ionizer.

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