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NY A89407

November 25, 1996

CLA-2-84:RR:NC:1:104 A89407


TARIFF NO.: 8456.91.0000; 8479.89.8590; 8514.30.2000; 9030.82.0000

Mr. David Kirby

Tokyo Electron America, Inc.

2400 Grove Boulevard

Austin, Texas 78741

RE: The tariff classification of semiconductor production and test equipment from Japan.

Dear Mr. Kirby:

In your letter dated October 31, 1996 you requested a tariff classification ruling.

The Clean Track Mark 7 and Mark 8 coater/developer machines are capable of processing semiconductor wafers 6 inches to 8 incles in diameter. They basically consist of a spinner unit in which a photosensitive resist material is coated onto the surface of the wafer, ovens or hot plates where a "soft" bake of the photoresist is performed, a spray developer unit for developing the resist after exposure, and additional ovens for "hard" baking the photoresist. In between the coating and developing processes, circuit pattern exposure is performed by means of separate exposure equipment which is not shipped with the Clean Track machines. The Mark 7 and Mark 8 also incorporate a vacuum-less, low contact wafer handler for transporting the wafers through the various process modules. The entire coater/developer system resides in an enclosed housing which controls airflow within the system to ensure wafer cleanliness.

You indicate that TEL's vertical furnaces are used for diffusion, oxidation, annealing, or low pressure chemical vapor deposition (LPCVD) on silicon wafers. All machine configurations use high temperatures (500 - 1200 degrees centigrade) and process gases to effect a change to the silicon wafer - either modification of the atomic structure, growing a layer of silicon dioxide, or deposition of a new layer. The LPCVD furnace primarily differs from the others only by the addition of a vacuum system. Neither system makes use of plasma.

TEL's etchers create electrically active features on a semiconductor wafer through the chemical and physical removal of substrate material by the application of magnetically confined plasma or enhanced plasma (dry etch). The plasma, excited by a 380 Khz or 13,56 Mhz radio frequency source, confined by a gradient field dipole ring magnet assembly, and at pressure between 20 - 1,500 milliTorr, is used to etch features into the dielectric film such as transistor junctions, gates, capacitors, etc. The machine features simultaneous wafer handling, multiple processing chambers, and can be configured for multiple simultaneous wafer processing.

TEL's probers are used to test the electrical properties and integrity of processed silicon wafers or individual integrated circuits. The prober interfaces with a separate tester (not sold or shipped by TEL) which performs the actual analysis of the electrical signals. The prober holds the device to be tested, handles the precise alignment of the electrical contacts, steps through each device to be tested, automates the wafer handling, and acts as an interface between the tester and the device to be tested. Optionally, the prober may include a recording device.

The applicable subheading for the Clean Track will be 8479.89.8590, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for machines for processing of semiconductor materials; machines for production and assembly of diodes, transistors and similar semiconductor devices and electronic integrated circuits: other. The rate of duty will be free.

The applicable subheading for the vertical furnaces for diffusion, oxidation or annealing (without the vacuum system) will be 8514.30.2000, HTs, which provides for industrial or laboratory electric furnaces and ovens; ...: other furnaces and ovens: for diffusion, oxidation or annealing of semiconductor wafers. The rate of duty will be free.

The LPCVD furnace (with the vacuum system) is classified under HTS subheading 8479.89.8576 which provides for machines for processing of semiconductor materials; machines for production and assembly of diodes, transistors and similar semiconductor devices and electronic integrated circuits: chemical vapor deposition (CVD) apparatus including low pressure and plasma enhanced systems. The rate of duty will be free.

You have stated that this classification of the LPCVD furnace is consistent with NY ruling 818472 of February 20, 1996. You believe however that it conflicts with NY ruling A81746 of April 17, 1996 which classified a LPCVD furnace under 8514.30.2000. The latter ruling addressed the classification of only the furnace portion of an LPCVD system (imported without the vacuum system). It is our understanding that the LPCVD process can only be accomplished in a unit which incorporates a vacuum system.

The applicable subheading for the etchers will be 8456.91.0000, HTS, which provides for machine tools for working any material by removal of material by laser ... or plasma arc processes: other: for dry etching patterns on semiconductor materials. The rate of duty will be free.

The applicable subheading for the probers will be 9030.82.0000, HTS, which provides for other instruments and apparatus for measuring or checking electrical quantities: for measuring or checking semiconductor wafers or devices. The rate of duty will be free.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Robert Losche at 212-466-5670.


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