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Deep Reactive Ion Etching

historical sales drie image
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Yole DeepRIE 2012The number of wafers processed with DRIE will see 5X growth 2011 – 2017

DRIE is becoming more and more popular

The Deep Reactive Ion Etching (“DRIE”) is a structuration process originally used for MEMS. This process enables achieving etch depths of 100s of micrometers with almost vertical sidewalls with very high aspect ratio (> 50:1 in some cases). The process was first developed by Robert Bosch, and thus it is also called the “BOSCH process” and is used whenever high aspect ratios are targeted. SPP, the equipment manufacturer,obtained a license from Bosch to exploit the technology.This agreement has led to incredible growth of the DRIE market. First used for production of accelerometers, the process is used today for production of (some) ink jet-heads, pressure sensors,gyroscopes, micro phones and micro actuators (e.g.MEMS auto-focus). But the use of the process has become popular outside of the MEMS world, for Advanced Packaging applications.

graph DRIE processed

The DRIE process is unique to achieve very high aspect ratio with vertical walls in a semiconductor environment. Therefore, because this etching process is becoming more and more used, Yole Développement has released this “Deep Reactive Ion Etching, Technology & Market” report.
From 2011 to 2017, the number of DRIE-processed wafers will jump from 5.4M to more than 27M (all wafer sizes). This is > 30% CAGR (see figure 1).

The report describes the following points:
  • DRIE applications: MEMS, Advanced Packaging, Power Devices
  • 2011-2017 DRIE equipment forecast by application, wafer size in chambers, US$M value
  • Chemistry forecast
  • DRIE vendors profiles
  • Market shares
  • New innovative applications (micro gears, auto-focus, microfluidics, resonators…)
Competition is strengthening as applications are burgeoning

The DRIE process was first used for accelerometer and gyroscope production for automotive applications. Although DRIE continues to be used for accelerometers, the growth is no longer restricted to this application. Continuous growth for MEMS accelerometers was observed in 2011. Although the device price pressure is very important in smartphones, further penetration on feature-phones was observed and new markets appeared (such as tablets).

Moreover, the market for consumer gyroscopes skyrocketed in 2011. Indeed most handset OEMs adopted gyroscopes for their flagship smartphones or tablets. 3-axis gyroscopes will be the hottest MEMS product in the coming years as the penetration of gyroscopes will keep increasing. Today, most of the inertial MEMS have a comb-drive structure. Therefore, DRIE needs to be used for micromachining. From 2014, combo sensor integration (a combination of several inertial sensors in one single package) will be largely adopted. This will drive the growth of DRIE for inertial MEMS.

The year 2012 also see new MEMS devices (e.g. MEMS-based auto-focus, offering smaller size, quicker actuation, lower power consumption and better image quality) that will also use DRIE.

Historical sales DRIE image
In the years 2005+, the emerging of the Through Si Vias (“TSV”) technology for 3D stacking gave a breath to the DRIE technology. Today, DRIE is used through three different technology platforms:
  • Interposers (vias are etched in a Si - or glass – wafer with no active die; this application also includes LEDs submounts)
  • 3D TSV “stack” / “ground vias” (vias are etched in the active die for dies such as logic, memories)
  • 3D WLP for CMOS Image Sensors

And the third application covers Power Devices, where DRIE is a competing technology for Super Junction MOSFETs. Niche “innovation” applications are also driving the DRIE market (e.g. micro components for watches).

This buoyant DRIE market is highly competitive with more than 10 vendors. Although SPTS is market leader in number of shipped DRIE chambers, SPTS is now challenged by Lam Research and many other vendors: Maxis, Panasonic Factory, SAMCO, AMAT, Hitachi High Tech, Oxford Instruments, TEL. These companies are described in the report.

DRIE processes
The Yole report also describes the forecast for DRIE-related chemistry (gas & hard mask thick resist). The report identifies technology trends, challenges and precise requirements for DRIE process, we screen competitive activity, and identify the potential applications that might require the use of DRIE technology.

Table of contents

Scope of the report & definitions

> Why a DRIE report?
> Glossary
> Who should be interested in this report?
> Companies cited in the report
> Executive Summary
> Introduction
> Why DRIE?

DRIE technologies overview

> Different etching processes
> Boch process
> Cryogenic process
> Non switched

Global DRIE 2011-2017 market forecast

> DRIE history
> DRIE-processed wafers forecast
> DRIE equipment forecast
- In US$M
- In chambers
- Production vs. R&D
- By wafer size
- By application
- By wafer size
> Chemistry forecast
> Hard mask photo-resist for DRIE

DRIE vendors market shares 2011

Application focus for DRIE technology

> MEMS applications
- Accelerometers
- Gyroscopes
- Ink-jet MEMS modules
- Silicon microphones
- Auto focus
- Others: resonators, microfluidics,watches actuators

> Advanced Packaging applications
- 3D ICs
- 3D WLP
- 2.5 interposers
> Power applications
- IPMs
> DRIE parameters by application
> Other applications

DRIE profiles

> DRIE vendors
- Lam Research
- Maxis
- Oxford Instruments
- Panasonic
- Samco
- Ulvac
> Gas suppliers
- Air Liquide
- Air Products
- Pelchem
> Hard masks suppliers
- Brewer Science
- Dupont
- Nippon Kayaku
- Silecs




Companies Cited

AAC Acoustic
Air Liquide
Air Product
Analog Devices
Applied Materials
Brewer Science
Hitachi High-Tech
Hua-Hong NEC
LAM Research
Nippon Kayaku
Oxford Instrument
Panasonic Factory 
ST Micro
Tokyo Electron



  • 2011-2017 Market Forecasts for DRIE in $M value and number of equipment
  • Overview of the different DRIE approaches
  • Description of the applications for DRIE with main characteristics
  • Equipment players market shares and competitive information