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Watlow Unveils its new Fiber Optic Temperature Sensing and Control System - Ideal for RF Environments

30 July, 2015

St. Louis, MO – Watlow®, an industry leader in the design and manufacture of complete thermal systems, is excited to announce its new EZ-ZONE® RM fiber optic temperature measurement system, a compact sensing and control solution ideal for plasma environments.

Temperature sensors that transmit electrical signals, such as thermocouples and RTDs, are often compromised when exposed to the electromagnetic environments found in plasma chambers where the RF noise couples onto the sensor and distorts the signal. Fiber optic temperature sensing, using the principles of fluorescence, enables operation in plasma environments providing stability, repeatability and cost effectiveness. As such they are ideal for determining the temperature of chamber components such as chamber lids, chamber baffles, electrostatic chucks, edge rings and showerheads.

Leveraging its strength in control systems, Watlow has combined advances in fluorescent sensing with its powerful EZ-ZONE RM control platform, creating an integrated solution for the latest semiconductor processing tools. Two versions make the system adaptable to all system requirements.

The EZ-ZONE RMZ integrates fiber optics, PID temperature control and EtherCAT® communication capabilities into a single package. It features up to 48 loops of input and control with all EZ-ZONE RM temperature control features including I/O, logic, current measurement, power switching and more.

For those without the need to implement EtherCAT®, the EZ-ZONE RMF module is a dedicated fiber optic input module integrating the power of the EZ-ZONE control system with one to eight channels of fiber optic temperature sensing. It can be used as either an expansion module or configured with built-in temperature control loops.  These two modules provide system designers with an integrated solution with the flexibility to expand the number of sensing/control zones as required.  The EZ-ZONE RMF can be used independently when only sensing is required.

Real estate associated with a plasma chamber is expensive. Watlow’s fiber optic temperature measurement system is compact at just 144 cubic inches, and can be mounted on a DIN-rail, minimizing the size of the installed footprint.  Integration of the fiber optic probes (sensing head) are customized based on many factors including application environment, temperature regime, size constraints and material compatibilities.

Other system benefits include faster temperature sampling rates with high resolution, highly accurate fluorescent signal processing electronics and a highly reliable LED light source, designed to run at low currents for maximum life.

“The introduction of our fiber optic temperature measurement and control system marks a major advancement in this technology arena,” said Ray Derler, semiconductor business unit marketing director. “While the sensing technology has been markedly improved to advance both performance and reliability, this product moves beyond the sensor as a component and brings new, system-level, advantages to equipment designers. We are proud to introduce our fiber optic temperature measurement system because of the benefits the system will provide. Our customers have been telling us that they need a better solution that addresses reliability, accuracy and system level packaging. Our new system is the innovation desired for temperature sensing and control in plasma chambers.”