The XeF2 etcher uses Xenon Difluoride crystals to produce fluorine vapors in a vacuum chamber, which isotropically etch silicon. At room temperature, xenon difluoride, or XeF2, is in a solid crystalline form. When exposed to low pressures, the XeF2 crystals become a gas by sublimation. The XeF2 gas selectively etches silicon, however, it does not etch silica, most photoresists, oxides, nitrides, and many metals.
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