Humidity control in the production of semiconductors is used to prevent the build-up of static electricity, prevent dimensional changes from occurring on the surface of the silicon wafer and cool the manufacturing environment.

 

 

Any uncontrolled electrical static discharge that occurs during production can damage the surface of the semiconductors and significantly lower production yields. The manufacturing process generates heat and this in-turn dries the air. As dry air promotes static build-up, humidifiers are used to control the atmosphere to around 55% relative humidity (%rH). This encourages the static to naturally dissipate removing the risk of damage to the surface of the semiconductor.

 

However, the printed surfaces of the silicon wafer are also very sensitive to moisture. The conductive tracts on the surface can distort during manufacturing if exposed to incorrect humidity levels. Extremely close control of humidity to ±0.1°C dew point over any 40 minute period is required. Any variation greater than this and the conductive tracts will be damaged and the semiconductor ruined.

 

High humidity levels can lead to metal components corrosion. According to some recent studies, increasing relative humidity from 50% to 70% is not affecting the corrosion unless Chlorine is present, but further increasing relative humidity to 80% also increases the corrosion regardless of all gas mixtures. For data center facilities expected to have Cl2 and/or H2S, the humidity levels should be kept lower than 60%. At least twice in a year, the facility operators should test the corrosion levels. Data center humidity control should take care of high humidity but also low humidity, let’s see in the next paragraph about this last one.

 

For existing data centres ASHRAE recommends a humidity level of 5.5°C dew point to 60%RH and an allowable range of between 20-80%RH.Low Humidity associated risks for DataCenters,It is well known that low humidity can lead to static electricity release and electrical discharges due to the air conductivity increase. As per the research studies carried out by ASHRAE, there is a significant reduction of electrostatic charge accumulation on personnel if ESD (Electro Static Discharge) control shoes are worn, regardless of the flooring. Also, there’s a benefit in charge accumulation reduction if a good conductive floor is installed, regardless of footwear.


Within the sleek, air-conditioned vaults of semiconductors and data centers, a constant battle rages – not against adversaries or malfunctioning machinery, but against an invisible foe: humidity. This deceptively simple element, present in every wisp of breath and raindrop, holds the power to cripple technological marvels, turning fragile circuits into scrapyard rejects and crippling the heartbeat of the digital world. Mastering humidity control in these hyper-sensitive environments is therefore not a mere
engineering challenge, but a delicate dance demanding precision, vigilance, and a deep understanding of the forces at play.

 

ASHRAE: The Guiding Light in the Humidity Maze

 

Navigating this intricate dance begins with a clear map, and in the world of humidity control, that map comes in the form of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating andAir-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Their meticulously crafted standards for temperature and humidity provide the bedrock upon which effective control strategies are built. For semiconductors, the acceptable range is narrow, hovering between 30% and 60% relative humidity (RH). Straying outside these boundaries invites disaster: high humidity fosters corrosion and malfunction, while low levels elevate the risk of electrostatic discharge (ESD) – the silent saboteur that can leave a trail of fried circuitry in its wake. Data centers, the throbbing data hearts of the internet, face a similar, though slightly less stringent, challenge. Here, the recommended RH range spans from 40% to 60%, offering a bit more breathing room. However, the consequences of deviating from this sweet spot are no less severe. High humidity encourages condensation, promoting fungal growth and organic contaminants that can wreak havoc on delicate server components. Conversely, low humidity fuels static buildup, increasing the risk of short circuits and potential fires.

 

Securing the Gates: A Vigilant Fortress

 

Maintaining this delicate equilibrium demands a fortress-like approach to security. In these environments, where a rogue temperature spike or a stray drop of condensation can spell catastrophe, robust access control systems are not optional luxuries, but vital lines of defence. Real-time door status monitoring ensures that intruders remain outside the sterile sanctuary of the humidity-controlled zone. Fail-safe access systems, equipped with granular zoning capabilities, further tighten the security net. These systems restrict access to specific areas based on user permissions, ensuring that only authorized personnel can tinker with the critical controls that govern the environment. Such granular control not only safeguards against human error but also prevents deliberate sabotage – a growing threat in an increasingly interconnected world.

 

Building Automation: The Orchestrator of the Dance

 

Beyond the watchful eyes of security, the intricate machinery of building automation systems plays a crucial role in this high-stakes ballet. Here, network and device redundancy are not mere buzzwords, but essential mantras. Imagine the chaos if a single point of failure plunged these vital systems into darkness, leaving humidity levels to spiral out of control. Dual networks, redundant sensors, and failover mechanisms act as the backup dancers in this technological tango, ensuring that the show goes on even if one partner stumbles. But the true power of building automation lies in its ability to transcend the limitations of mere hardware. Modern platforms bridge the physical and digital realms, offering real-time monitoring and data analysis accessible from anywhere on the planet. This newfound transparency empowers operators to make informed decisions based on instant feedback. Imagine the power of remotely tweaking ventilation systems based on real-time humidity readings, or dispatching technicians to address a minor leak before it morphs into a catastrophic flood.

 

 

Beyond the Physical: Cloud, Mobility, and the Future of Control

 

The future of humidity control in these critical environments is about pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. On-premises and cloud capabilities will coexist in seamless harmony, offering unparalleled flexibility and accessibility. Imagine a data center manager in London remotely overseeing humidity levels in a facility halfway across the globe, adjusting settings and receiving real-time notifications on a mobile device. Such mobility and global reach will revolutionize how we manage these vital ecosystems, enabling proactive intervention and remote troubleshooting. Beyond accessibility, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are poised to take center stage. Smart algorithms will analyze vast datasets of environmental data, identifying patterns and predicting potential problems before they even arise. These predictive capabilities will usher in a new era of preventative maintenance, allowing us to anticipate and address threats before they materialize.

 

The Stakes: Beyond Circuits and Servers

 

Maintaining optimal humidity levels in semiconductors and data centers is not just an engineering feat; it’s about safeguarding the very fabric of our interconnected society. These gleaming silicon temples are the nerve centers of the modern world, powering everything from online banking to life-saving medical research. Any disruption in their delicate temperature and humidity balance can have cascading consequences, impacting global markets, crippling communication networks, and even endangering lives.

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