Saf Health Work.  2011 Sep;2(3):210-217.

Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds and Possibility of Exposure to By-product Volatile Organic Compounds in Photolithography Processes in Semiconductor Manufacturing Factories

  • 1Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute, Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency, Incheon, Korea.


The purpose of this study was to measure the concentration of volatile organic compound (VOC)s originated from the chemicals used and/or derived from the original parental chemicals in the photolithography processes of semiconductor manufacturing factories.
A total of four photolithography processes in 4 Fabs at three different semiconductor manufacturing factories in Korea were selected for this study. This study investigated the types of chemicals used and generated during the photolithography process of each Fab, and the concentration levels of VOCs for each Fab.
A variety of organic compounds such as ketone, alcohol, and acetate compounds as well as aromatic compounds were used as solvents and developing agents in the processes. Also, the generation of by-products, such as toluene and phenol, was identified through a thermal decomposition experiment performed on a photoresist. The VOC concentration levels in the processes were lower than 5% of the threshold limit value (TLV)s. However, the air contaminated with chemical substances generated during the processes was re-circulated through the ventilation system, thereby affecting the airborne VOC concentrations in the photolithography processes.
Tens of organic compounds were being used in the photolithography processes, though the types of chemical used varied with the factory. Also, by-products, such as aromatic compounds, could be generated during photoresist patterning by exposure to light. Although the airborne VOC concentrations resulting from the processes were lower than 5% of the TLVs, employees still could be exposed directly or indirectly to various types of VOCs.


Semiconductor; Photolithography; Wafer fabrication; Chemical substances; Volatile organic compounds
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