Ultra Life - high-speed drive system for ultra-long life Vacuum Capacitors

August 11, 2023

New performance demands of the chip-makers made innovation essential. Learn about the history of Comet Ultra Life drive systems.

Proven Comet solutions – 75 years of experience

New performance demands make innovation essential

The demand for improved performance by ever-smaller chips has increased the number of etch/deposition processes at chip manufacturers and has led to faster processes and more frequent, smaller steps.

Fifteen years ago, the standard was around 1 m cycles per year. Now, the baseline is more along the lines of 1 m cycles per three months or even less. The driving speed has increased significantly over the years, too: Up to 1200RPM are required today, up from just 180 RPM – 360RPM originally.

Given the increased performance requirements in relation to speed and number of cycles of Matching Networks, and in turn Vacuum Capacitors, the lifetime of conventional Vacuum Capacitors – which is mainly determined by time-to-failure of moving parts like bellows or drive systems – has decreased significantly.

The necessary speed and raised number of cycles are challenging for all components of the drive system of a Vacuum Capacitor and lifetime is limited due to friction and wear of screw and nut.  Residues of metal particles mixed with lubricant generates a pasty mixture which leads to increased torque and eventually to failures. Increased torque may also cause a blocked lead screw and subsequently a blocked drive system.

The need for new technologies was clear.

Worn-out flanks are clearly visible on nut

Flanks are completely worn

Goal: Avoid machine breakdowns

In line with each technology node of the semiconductor industry, Comet had to improve the lifetime of their products according to the new demands. As far back as in the 1990s, Comet was investigating unfavorable material conditions to determine where and why wearout was happening. The goal was to design a solution that would guarantee a lifetime of around 3 m cycles.

By experimenting with different materials and coatings, Comet improved the form, fit and function of the drive system of its Vacuum Capacitors, which were now sold under the brand name Ultra Life. The solution fulfills the industry’s challenging requirements for trouble-free operation and increased reliability of the plasma system.

Vacuum Capacitors equipped with the
Comet Ultra Life drive system have a significantly increased lifetime
and guarantee a trouble-free operation up to 6 m cycles.

The new designs were continuously improved. Comet is now able to offer Vacuum Capacitors with drive systems suitable for every application, including those involving high-power capacitors. A trouble-free lifetime of over 100 m turns can be achieved with the appropriate system.

Examples of Vacuum Capacitors with Comet Ultra Life drive system

Analysis of the capacitors shows perfect electrical and mechanical conditions.

Tests after 1.5 years under real operating conditions in customer tool. The results show excellent outer conditions with perfect drive system parts (lead screw and nut). No signs of wear are visible.

Uni-Con Vacuum Capacitor series

Top view on variable side with drive nut: The nut insert looks perfect, with no signs of wear.

Section of dismounted nut insert: After 3.1 m cycles, the flanks and the surface are still in perfect condition.

Hexa-Con Vacuum Capacitor series

The thread of the lead screw is still in perfect condition (after 3.1 m cycles) also when tested with the go/no-go gauge.

Comparison life cycle test Hexa-Con series

Life cycle tests

For decades, Comet has been performing standardized life cycle tests to verify and prove the specified life span of Vacuum Capacitors, which is mainly determined by movable parts like bellows and drive systems. Different drive systems are tested under identical conditions.

The results of specific life cycle tests with different drive-systems are available on request. 

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Ultra Life

Product information

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Technical Information

Read Service Bulletin SB-56

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More Advanced Technologies

Learn more about Comet's advanced features for Vacuum Capacitors

Advanced Technologies

Comet’s advanced Ultra Life drive systems offer unbeaten durability and performance during sophisticated application and production processes, especially for high-power capacitors.

Most Comet Vacuum Capacitors used for semiconductor applications can be equipped with the Ultra Life CE! compliant drive system.

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