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Cyth’s Arbitrary Waveform Generator Critical for Semiconductor Production

Arbitrary Waveform Generator
Arbitrary Waveform Generator

The Challenge

A manufacturer of semiconductor equipment required a system to create waveforms in assistance with the discharge of molten metal used in silicon wafer processing.

The Solution

Using the NI PXI platform and LabVIEW software platforms we created an Arbitrary Waveform Generator capable of supporting our customer’s semiconductor equipment and improving their high-speed and high-sample rate waveform control.

Semiconductor Technology & The Cyth Process

  • Our client is a manufacturer of semiconductor equipment deployed in every major silicon wafer fabrication site in the world.

  • One of the machine’s main functions is driving a microscopic piezo coil that disperses metal particles when shocked with a specific waveform.

  • These precision metal particles are being released at a rate of 2000-100,000 particles per second within a vacuum chamber.

  • The waveform drives the piezo which controls the shape, size, and timing of the particles.

  • The waveform generator was tightly coupled with an oscilloscope card to synchronize digitized measurements signals.

  • Using the NI hardware and software platforms has enabled us to achieve these highly precise control requirements.

​System PXI Card



PXIe-1071 Chassis

4-Slot Chassis

PXI Chassis

NI PXI-5441

43 MHz, 100 MS/s AWG,

16-Bit, Onboard Signal Processing

Arbitrary Waveform Generator


60 MHz, 8-Channel, 12-Bit PXI Oscilloscope

High Speed & High Sample Rate Waveform Measurement


Embedded Controller – FPGA-Based I/O, 2.4 GHz Quad-Core Processor PXI Controller

Data Logging & Control


Virtex-5 LX50 FPGA,

750 kS/s

Data Logging & Control

Left: 2nd Generation Arbitrary Waveform Generator, Right: 1st Waveform Generator.
Left: 2nd Generation Arbitrary Waveform Generator, Right: 1st Waveform Generator.

Generations of Technology

  • The first generation of our system, a Simple Signal Generator (SigGen), produced sine, square, & triangular waves.

  • The 2nd & 3rd generations of the system, an Arbitrary Waveform Generator (AWG), allows us to program the shape of the wave & how it behaves. We can produce any arbitrary waveform by dictating thousands of samples within a period.

Simple Waveform Generator | Arbitrary Waveform Generator
Simple Waveform Generator | Arbitrary Waveform Generator

For the AWG to be improved, it has required updates to the firmware.

  • Required more than simply amplitude & frequency.

  • Our AWG collects waveforms, measures their length and characteristic shape, dictates how many points are required to describe them, sets a sampling rate, and figures out the number of points needed to achieve a certain sample rate.

  • We required 1000 samples a millisecond (>1MS/s) to best describe these produced waves, which were then upscaled to 200MS/s in the output stage for smooth signal quality.

  • Logic programmed into LabVIEW algorithms allows our engineering team to change certain variables and set a discrete value for the sample rate and the number of samples from the collected data.

Delivering an Outcome

Our Arbitrary Waveform Generator is centered around the NI PXI hardware and LabVIEW software platforms and is deployed into our customer’s semiconductor manufacturing equipment. This equipment is improving the capability of major wafer fabrication sites across the globe, enabling the next generation of semiconductors.


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