Expertech Saves Museum from the Scrap Yard

Expertech takes over as historian for Thermco museum

Expertech was concerned that an important piece of semiconductor history could be lost, so we have become the unofficial curator of the “Thermco museum”. The Pacesetter furnace in the photo is an example of an array of equipment that we’ve assembled in our Scotts Valley facility. It also reminds us of how far the industry has progressed in just a short span of time. We are now looking at furnace solutions for 450mm processing, quite a difference for sure. The museum is open during business hours.

Here is an edited excerpt from the website describing this particular furnace:

Here is an excellent view of a state-of-the-art diffusion furnace from the mid 1960s. Note its small diffusion tube, no more than 2 inches at the utmost, barely large enough to hold a boat full of 1½ inch wafers; but no matter, 2 inch wafers were still a few years out in the future. Multiple four and eight tube furnaces were also still a bit away, as was automatic pusher/puller equipment. This unit used a manual quartz pushrod instead, with the operator slowly and uniformly pushing the boatloads into the tube and just as slowly removing them hours later. Also note its three zone controllers, enough to give a good thermal profile of plus or minus a couple of degrees at 1000 degrees C for most of the length of the furnace. Thermco wasn’t the first to manufacture high quality diffusion furnaces, but their high-tech solutions soon won them the major market. Founded in 1962, they were major market leaders before the end of the decade. By 1980 they owned 45% of the diffusion market including their Japanese partner TEL Thermco. Their nearest competitor, Tempress, was almost four times smaller. Just one year later Bruce surged ahead while Thermco dropped a disastrous 28%, all in a stagnant growth market. By 1982 Thermco was sold to Allegheny, then sold again to SVG in 1988 where it was shut down.

Expertech remanufactures Thermco series 4000 and 5000 and maintains an inventory of used systems available for rebuilding to custom requirements.