Sunday, September 19, 2021

1 min introduction of Han Bo Ram Lee Lab (HBRLRG, Korean version)

Even if you do not speak Korean you can understand almost everything in this amazing video from Han-Bo-Ram Lee lab - stay tuned for the English version!

ALD can improve surgical tools like scalpel blades and much more

A recent article published in MDPI (LINK) discusses a study where zinc oxide thin film was deposited on surgical knife blades with ALD. The study shows that surgical instruments coated with non-allergenic metal oxide coatings containing metal structures that reduce the growth of bacteria could significantly decrease the risk of undesirable reactions of the body during and after surgery.

"The use of ALD methods in medicine allows us to enter a completely new generation of in vivo medicine. The ALD method makes it possible to meet the high requirements regarding mechanical and anti-corrosion properties, chemical and thermal resistance, as well as biocompatibility for tools used in medicine."

Here ALD coatings performed in a Picosun R 200 System have been investigated by Polish researchers.

Application of ALD Thin Films on the Surface of the Surgical Scalpel Blade

Department of Engineering Materials and Biomaterials, Silesian University of Technology, Konarskiego 18a Str., 44-100 Gliwice, Poland
Scientific and Didactic Laboratory of Nanotechnology and Material Technologies, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Silesian University of Technology, Towarowa 7 Str., 44-100 Gliwice, Poland
Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, Silesian University of Technology, Roosevelta 40, 41-800 Zabrze, Poland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Angela De Bonis
Coatings 202111(9), 1096;
Received: 11 August 2021 / Revised: 3 September 2021 / Accepted: 7 September 2021 / Published: 11 September 2021

Saturday, September 18, 2021

University of Helsinki presents Self-Aligned Thin-Film Patterning by Area-Selective Etching of Polymers

A promising path to cut cost, scale, and reduce the environmental impact of semiconductor manufacturing

One of the driving costs in the high volume production of semiconductor components for especially powerful processors and memory chips is the patterning process. Both the capital investment in photolithographic equipment and the design cost add to the escalating cost going down to smaller nodes (see figure below). If one can reduce the number of lithographic mask layers needed in the production for a chip design one automatically cut the overall cost. Another problem is that while scaling down designs to smaller critical dimensions and tighter pitches and scaling up in the 3rd dimension like for 3D-NAND and coming 3D-DRAM it becomes more difficult to match the next mask layer with the previous one. The industry has solved this issue successfully for many years by introducing self-aligned processes like self-aligned contacts to the source, drain, and gate of the transistors below. Also, selective deposition processes like selective Epi and Cobalt CVD caps on copper are in production.

From an environmental view, lithography and mask more mask layers also consume more energy and clean water. Recent reports from Taiwan have it that both are problems, where drought has led to water shortages and the overall energy demand from fabs are high (about 5% of Taiwan total demand in 2019). 

Here, the University of Helsinki presents a process sequence for the future that is self-aligned and selective making it possible to mitigate all those problems in a very clever way for future devices and metallization schemes - please find all the details in the article below that is open source for download.

Self-Aligned Thin-Film Patterning by Area-Selective Etching of Polymers

by Chao Zhang, Markku Leskelä and Mikko Ritala *

Coatings 2021, 11(9), 1124;

Patterning of thin films with lithography techniques for making semiconductor devices has been facing increasing difficulties with feature sizes shrinking to the sub-10 nm range, and alternatives have been actively sought from area-selective thin film deposition processes. Here, an entirely new method is introduced to self-aligned thin-film patterning: area-selective gas-phase etching of polymers. The etching reactions are selective to the materials underneath the polymers. Either O2 or H2 can be used as an etchant gas. After diffusing through the polymer film to the catalytic surfaces, the etchant gas molecules are dissociated into their respective atoms, which then readily react with the polymer, etching it away. On noncatalytic surfaces, the polymer film remains. For example, polyimide and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) were selectively oxidatively removed at 300 °C from Pt and Ru, while on SiO2 they stayed. CeO2 also showed a clear catalytic effect for the oxidative removal of PMMA. In H2, the most active surfaces catalysing the hydrogenolysis of PMMA were Cu and Ti. The area-selective etching of polyimide from Pt was followed by area-selective atomic layer deposition of iridium using the patterned polymer as a growth-inhibiting layer on SiO2, eventually resulting in dual side-by-side self-aligned formation of metal-on-metal and insulator (polymer)-on-insulator. This demonstrates that when innovatively combined with area-selective thin film deposition and, for example, lift-off patterning processes, self-aligned etching processes will open entirely new possibilities for the fabrication of the most advanced and challenging semiconductor devices.

Schematics showing self-aligned polymer etching and the subsequent film patterning through area-selective deposition and lift-off processes. (Zhang et al Coatings 2021, 11(9), 1124, figure 1)

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited

Semiconductor design and manufacturing: Achieving leading-edge capabilities, McKinsey LINK

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Problem solved - In0.5Ga0.5N layers by Atomic Layer Deposition!

Pedersen Group at Linköping University, Sweden, present an ALD approach to metastable In1-xGaxN with 0.1 < x < 0.5 based on solid In- and Ga-precursors that were co-sublimed into the deposition chamber in one pulse. A near In0.5Ga0.5N film with a bandgap of 1.94 eV was achieved on Si (100) substrate. Epitaxial In1-xGaxN (0002) was successfully grown directly on 4H-SiC (0001).

In0.5Ga0.5N layers by Atomic Layer Deposition
P. Rouf, J. Palisaitis, B. Bakhit, N. J. O'Brien and H. Pedersen, J. Mater. Chem. C, 2021, DOI: 10.1039/D1TC02408F. (LINK)

a) Cross-sectional STEM-HAADF image of the ~60 nm In1-xGaxN film on 4H-SiC substrate with a zoomed in image of the b) In82Ga18N and c) In18Ga82N layers. d) SAED pattern from the film and substrate. EDX maps of Ga e), In f) and Si g). EELS maps of N h) and C i).

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Picosun Innovation Lab, opened in September 2021

Picosun Innovation Lab, opened in September 2021, will be used for the company’s own research and development projects, for demo purposes and most importantly for serving the company’s global semiconductor customers operating in the 300 mm market.

ESPOO, Finland, 7th of September 2021 – Picosun Group has taken into use new facilities at its production laboratory in Kirkkonummi, Finland. The Picosun Innovation Lab will be used for the company’s own research and development projects, for demo purposes and most importantly for serving the company’s global semiconductor customers operating in the 300 mm market.

The Innovation Lab hosts Picosun’s new generation tools PICOSUN® Morpher and PICOSUN® Sprinter. Morpher was launched in 2019 and it started a completely new era in Picosun products. Its adaptive and versatile nature makes it an ideal ALD solution for to the changing needs of different business verticals in the up to 200 mm wafer industries. Sprinter was launched late 2020 for the 300 mm wafer markets to meet the ever-increasing demands of semiconductor, display and IoT component manufacturing lines. It has brought single wafer film quality and uniformity for fast batch processing and met the challenges in high volume ALD manufacturing.

The Innovation Lab increases the laboratory capacity Picosun currently has on its premises significantly. The new facilities will have the ability to host tens of ALD tool modules. The facilities also support a variety of process gases including for example N2, O2, O3, Ar, H2, NH3 and NF3. Furthermore, special attention has also been paid for the best-in-class building management and safety systems.

“The opening of the new Innovation Lab reflects our role in being the pioneer in ALD and continuing the daily work in setting the standards for future innovations in the ALD sphere. The Innovation Lab has been a big investment for the company, but we see this as an essential investment to our and our customers’ future”, says Jussi Rautee, CEO of Picosun Group.

Friday, September 3, 2021

The world’s largest ALD system - The BENEQ P1500 is here!

Now it is here - The Beneq P1500 is the biggest ALD system and is built specifically to coat sizeable sheets and complex parts. It is also made to deliver increased throughput for batches of smaller components.

Beneqs customers use the P1500 for optical coatings on large diameter substrates, anticorrosive coatings of semiconductor equipment parts, and various applications where ALD is used on glass or metal sheets.

Large parts need large ALD tools. The Beneq P1500 can accommodate parts up to 1300 × 2400 mm in size, and enables the deposition of high-quality, functional optical coatings on wide area mirrors or lenses. It is also used to coat batches of parts in the 300 to 1000 mm size range.

More information: LINK

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Picosun strengthens its position in the semiconductor market

ESPOO, Finland, 31st of August 2021 – Picosun Group strengthens its position in the 300 mm semiconductor market with its new generation ALD tool PICOSUN® Sprinter.

PICOSUN® Sprinter was first launched in December 2020 as a stand-alone module. Now also customer deliveries and installations of PICOSUN® Sprinter clusters have started.

“A Sprinter cluster consist of two Sprinter modules and a central vacuum wafer-handling robot utilizing 5-wafer handling. The set-up enables a throughput of more than 100 wafers an hour with 10 nm aluminium oxide target film thickness”, explains Juhana Kostamo, VP, Industrial Business Area of Picosun Group.

“The throughput capability combined with the unique design of the tool’s reaction chamber, the record-breaking batch film quality and the fact that the tool can be fully integrated with the customers’ production line, makes PICOSUN® Sprinter the tool of choice for semiconductor, display and IoT component industries who need a future-proof tool with single wafer film quality and uniformity in fast batch processing”, Kostamo concludes.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Forge Nano and Mineral Commodities Enter Into MOU to Produce ALD-Coated Natural Graphite Anode Powders

[News Forge Nano, LINK] Forge Nano, a global leader in surface engineering and precision nano-coating technology, is proud to announce the successful launch of high-energy, Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries into orbit aboard the SpaceX Transporter-2 rideshare mission on June 20, 2021. The Li-ion batteries, featuring Forge Nano Particle ALD (PALD) technology and Enersys Zero Volt™ technology, were integrated into Spire Global®, Inc.’s LEMUR-2 satellite. The batteries used 100 percent domestically sourced electrode materials from Pyrotek® and Forge Nano®.

Lemur satellites in the Clean Room (image credit: Spire Global)

Paul Lichty, CEO of Forge Nano, explains “This is the first ALD-enabled space battery we know of and it’s mostly made with US materials! As world leaders in battery materials, we’re excited to be pushing limits of performance for various applications including space. This partnership with EnerSys, Pyrotek, and Spire Global is just one of many commercial battery projects we’re working on, and we look forward to sharing these other projects with the world soon.”

Forge Nano’s Particle Atomic Layer Deposition (PALD) technology, developed by Forge Nano founders while at the University of Colorado Boulder, allows batteries to survive longer and perform better across a variety of metrics. PALD is applicable and cost-effective for most cathodes, anodes, separators, and solid-state battery materials. Forge Nano works with companies from across the globe to enhance their materials with PALD.

The battery cells sent to space incorporated domestically sourced anode material from Pyrotek, headquartered in Spokane, Washington, and cathode material from Forge Nano. Both electrode materials utilized Forge Nano’s Particle Atomic Layer Deposition (PALD) coatings and combined with EnerSys® ZeroVolt™ technology to enhance cycle life stability, energy density, and low temperature performance. The batteries were sent to space aboard a Spire Global®, Inc. LEMUR-2 satellite and will be electrically cycled in-orbit at specific Depth of Discharge (DOD) levels to determine their electrical performance in a space environment as part of the battery qualification process.

“By integrating the various parties’ technologies into Spire’s LEMUR-2 satellite, we are able to gather relevant performance data in a spaceflight application and advance the use of this technology more broadly within the space industry.” said Keith E. Johnson, Vice President and General Manager, Federal at Spire Global, Inc.

“These new US-made batteries pave the way for a fully integrated US battery supply chain at a critical time in the domestication of the battery industry,” said Mark Matthews, EnerSys Senior Vice President, Specialty – Global.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Forge Nano and Mineral Commodities Enter Into MOU to Produce ALD-Coated Natural Graphite Anode Powders

DENVER, Aug. 19, 2021 [LINK] - Mineral Commodities Ltd., Perth l, WA, Australia, and Forge Nano Inc., Colorado, USA have signed a memorandum of understanding ("MOU") for the use of Forge Nano's proprietary Atomic Layer Deposition coating technology ("ALD"). Forge Nano's surface engineering platform technology will be used to apply atomic level coatings to Mineral Commodities' natural graphite materials.

Dr. Surinder Ghag, MRC's Chief Technology Officer, explains: "By combining our high-quality natural graphite with Forge Nano's ALD coating technology, we can produce a high-performing, cost-competitive graphite anode powder for lithium-ion batteries. We're very excited about this long-term partnership as we target sustainable European anode production in the coming years. This collaboration enables the Company to continue building its technical expertise as it moves towards demonstrating a downstream process for graphite spheronization, purification and coating."

Paul Lichty, Forge Nano's Chief Executive Officer, adds: "We are excited to be fully supporting Mineral Commodities as a key technology partner in their path towards large-scale anode powder production. Our high-throughput ALD coating technology will enable them to compete with established anode producers globally. The collaboration adds to our growing set of partnerships in the graphite anode space, a testament to the value of our technology."

Why does the ALD coating process work so well for graphite anode powders?

ALD coatings on graphite anode powder stabilize the surface defects. This ALD stabilization results in better anode powders with higher discharge capacities, longer life, and improved rate performance. Batteries using ALD-stabilized graphite show increased cycle life, reduced capacity fade, increased conductivity, and greater stability under a variety of conditions such as high voltage, fast charge, or high/low temperature storage and operation. Additionally, Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) is a potential replacement for carbon coatings on natural graphite powders, a process that few companies have the know-how for.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Picosun delivers ALD Morpher 200 mm Batch Cluster tool to ams OSRAM

ESPOO, Finland, 28th of July 2021 – Picosun Group delivers cutting-edge Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) technology to ams OSRAM for volume manufacturing of optical semiconductor devices.

ams OSRAM has invested in a fully automated PICOSUN® Morpher production cluster, which can deposit multiple materials on a batch of wafers even during the same process run. The flexibility and process variety of the PICOSUN® Morpher system is a key advantage, which enables volume production as well as the testing of new processes for R&D of future products.

Picosun Group and ams OSRAM have collaborated in a public funded project FLINGO ( project) to develop new ALD materials and processes to improve the characteristics of LEDs, such as efficiency and durability. The collaboration between the parties will continue after the ALD system delivery with activities to further expand the use of ALD in optoelectronic semiconductor processing.

“We have been working with Picosun since 2010 and now with this investment we can bring our collaboration to the next level. We are very excited to have the PICOSUN™ Morpher F cluster platform installed in our cleanroom”, states Dr. Sebastian Taeger, at ams OSRAM.

“The optical semiconductor market is one focus area of Picosun today. It is a fast-growing market where we have a strong presence with our tailored solutions for compound semiconductor-based devices. We have had excellent collaboration with the ams OSRAM technical team during project FLINGO and during the system specification stage. The expertise from both companies has resulted in optimized ALD solutions to boost the performance of the customer’s products.”, continues Dr. Christoph Hossbach, General Manager of Picosun Europe GmbH.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

ASM International Reports 2nd Quarter Results


  • New orders of €516 million for the second quarter 2021 increased by 73% compared to the same period last year. This is consistent with our announcement on July 1, 2021, that order intake in the second quarter clearly exceeded the previous guidance.
  • Year-on-year revenue growth for the second quarter 2021 was 29% at constant currencies (20% as reported).
  • Gross profit margin of 48.1% was close to last year’s margin of 48.3%.
  • Operating result for the second quarter 2021 improved from €88 million last year to €118 million this year mainly driven by strong revenue growth.
  • Normalized net earnings for the second quarter 2021 were €111 million, a significant improvement compared to same quarter last year.


“Our company delivered again a strong quarter,” said Benjamin Loh, President and Chief Executive Officer of ASM International. “Order intake surged to a new quarterly record of €516 million on the back of continued strong logic/foundry demand and our ALD product leadership. As already announced on 1 July, 2021, the order intake exceeded the previous guidance of €420-440 million, mainly driven by customers pulling in orders into Q2 that were previously expected to be received in Q3. Compared to the same period last year, sales in the second quarter increased by 29% at constant currencies and 20% as reported. Revenue, at €412 million, was slightly above the high end of the guidance of €390-410 million. While we benefited from our expanded manufacturing capacity in Singapore, supply chain conditions further tightened during the quarter, also due to new lockdown measures in parts of Southeast Asia. Thanks to great efforts by ASM’s team and our supply chain partners, we were still able to meet customer requirements.”


For Q3, on a currency comparable level, we expect sales of €400-430 million. Q3 bookings, on a currency comparable level, are expected to be in a range of €510-530 million, and also include orders that are planned to be shipped in 2022. Continued tight supply chain conditions are reflected in our sales guidance for Q3 and, based on the current visibility, are also expected to have some impact in Q4, although we do expect Q4 sales to increase compared to the level in Q3. Based upon the current market developments, the wafer fab equipment (WFE) market is expected to grow by a high twenties to low thirties percentage in 2021.

Friday, July 23, 2021

PlasticARM - A natively flexible 32-bit Arm microprocessor using ALD

Woah - PlasticARM 32-bit microprocessor using ALD and other thin film deposition techniques on a flexible substrate.

A natively flexible 32-bit Arm microprocessor using ALD

John Biggs, James Myers, Jedrzej Kufel, Emre Ozer, Simon Craske, Antony Sou, Catherine Ramsdale,
Ken Williamson, Richard Price & Scott White
Nature volume 595, pages532–536 (2021)

Abstract: Nearly 50 years ago, Intel created the world’s first commercially produced microprocessor—the 4004, a modest 4-bit CPU (central processing unit) with 2,300 transistors fabricated using 10 μm process technology in silicon and capable only of simple arithmetic calculations. Since this ground-breaking achievement, there has been continuous technological development with increasing sophistication to the stage where state-of-the-art silicon 64-bit microprocessors now have 30 billion transistors (for example, the AWS Graviton2 microprocessor, fabricated using 7 nm process technology). The microprocessor is now so embedded within our culture that it has become a meta-invention—that is, it is a tool that allows other inventions to be realized, most recently enabling the big data analysis needed for a COVID-19 vaccine to be developed in record time. Here we report a 32-bit Arm (a reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architecture) microprocessor developed with metal-oxide thin-film transistor technology on a flexible substrate (which we call the PlasticARM). Separate from the mainstream semiconductor industry, flexible electronics operate within a domain that seamlessly integrates with everyday objects through a combination of ultrathin form factor, conformability, extreme low cost and potential for mass-scale production. PlasticARM pioneers the embedding of billions of low-cost, ultrathin microprocessors into everyday objects.

a, The SoC architecture, showing the internal structure, the processor and system peripherals. The processor contains a 32-bit Arm Cortex-M CPU and a Nested Vector Interrupt Controller (NVIC), and is connected to its memory through the interconnect fabric (AHB-LITE). Finally, the external bus interface provides a General-Purpose Input-Output (GPIO) interface to communicate off-chip with the test framework. b, Features of the CPU used in PlasticARM compared to those of the Arm Cortex-M0+ CPU. Both CPUs fully support Armv6-M architecture with 32-bit address and data capabilities and a total of 86 instructions from the entire 16-bit Thumb and a subset of 32-bit Thumb instruction set architecture. The CPU microarchitecture has a two-stage pipeline. The registers are in the CPU of the Cortex-M0+, but in the PlasticARM the registers are moved to the latch-based RAM in the SoC to save the CPU area of the Cortex-M. Finally, both CPUs are binary compatible with each other and to other CPUs in the same architecture family. c, The die layout of PlasticARM, denoting the key blocks in white boxes such as the Cortex-M processor, ROM and RAM. d, The die micrograph of PlasticARM, showing the dimensions of the die and core areas. From: A natively flexible 32-bit Arm microprocessor

Green CVD—Toward a sustainable philosophy for thin film deposition by chemical vapor deposition

Thin films of materials are critical components for most areas of sustainable technologies, making thin film techniques, such as chemical vapor deposition (CVD), instrumental for a sustainable future. It is, therefore, of great importance to critically consider the sustainability aspects of CVD processes themselves used to make thin films for sustainable technologies. Here, we point to several common practices in CVD that are not sustainable. From these, we offer a perspective on several principles for a sustainable, “Green CVD” philosophy, which we hope will spur research on how to make CVD more sustainable without affecting the properties of the deposited film. We hope that these principles can be developed by the research community over time and be used to establish research on how to make CVD more sustainable and that a Green CVD philosophy can develop new research directions for both precursor and reactor design to reduce the precursor and energy consumption in CVD processes.

Electrical energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission in 300 mm logic wafer production for relevant technology nodes in production in 2021 and to be ramped up in the next five years.

We foresee a new research field focused on developing more sustainable CVD processes without impacting the performance of the deposited film negatively. To develop this, we suggest an adaption of a philosophy similar to Green Chemistry,8 a philosophy for all areas of chemistry and chemical engineering to make more sustainable processes and products. Green chemistry focuses on reducing the amount of hazardous materials used and generated, the amount of energy consumed, and designing less harmful molecules. Here, we outline suggestions for such a Green CVD philosophy

A Green CVD philosophy needs to focus on reducing the total energy consumption, reducing molecular consumption by increasing the efficiency in atom usage, and reducing the use of and formation of hazardous molecules. This should be done for the whole process chain of a CVD process—from precursor synthesis to waste gas abatement. A sustainable CVD process must also take an active stand against human rights abuse throughout the whole materials chain, use renewable energy for CVD equipment, and make use of the excess heat produced by CVD equipment. 

Summary of a suggested Green CVD philosophy

From this breakdown of the CVD process, we suggest the following principles to summarize a sustainable Green CVD philosophy:
(1) Use precursors that can be supplied to the process in close to the stoichiometric ratios in the target film to reduce molecular waste.
(2) Use precursors that undergo reactions with lower activation energies to reduce energy consumption and molecular waste.
(3) Use less hazardous precursor molecules to make the CVD process safer.
(4) Use precursors that produce less harmful by-products that are easier to handle.
(5) Minimize waste and energy consumption in the precursor supply chain.
(6) Minimize the thermal budget and vacuum volume of the CVD reactors.
(7) Use the most energy-efficient way to activate the deposition chemistry, including plasma methods.
(8) Recycle unconsumed CVD gases and precursors.
(9) Identify, prevent, address, and account for human rights abuses in the CVD supply chain.
(10) Use renewable energy for the CVD process and harvest excess heat.

Finally, we appreciate that industry is reluctant to change precursors and CVD processes that have been successfully brought into high volume production. As we have already pointed out, the research area of Green CVD should strive to make a given CVD process more sustainable without causing negative effects on the performance of the deposited film. Ideally, Green CVD should not affect the price of the CVD processing step either. It is very reasonable to expect that the demands for more sustainable production will increase and with that a need for more sustainable CVD. As in other research, a strong collaboration between industry and academia will strengthen the Green CVD development effort.
Full article in JVSTA: 

Green CVD—Toward a sustainable philosophy for thin film deposition by chemical vapor deposition
Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A 39, 051001, (2021);  Henrik Pedersen, Seán T. Barry, and Jonas Sundqvist


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Wafer-level uniformity of atomic-layer-deposited niobium nitride thin films for quantum devices

Research showing the potential for Plasma Enhanced ALD to scale up superconducting Quantum circuits from Jena and Karlsruhe, Germany using Oxford Instruments Plasma ALD.

Abstract: Superconducting niobium nitride thin films are used for a variety of photon detectors, quantum devices, and superconducting electronics. Most of these applications require highly uniform films, for instance, when moving from single-pixel detectors to arrays with a large active area. Plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition (ALD) of superconducting niobium nitride is a feasible option to produce high-quality, conformal thin films and has been demonstrated as a film deposition method to fabricate superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors before. Here, we explore the property spread of ALD-NbN across a 6-in. wafer area. Over the equivalent area of a 2-in. wafer, we measure a maximum deviation of 1% in critical temperature and 12% in switching current. Toward larger areas, structural characterizations indicate that changes in the crystal structure seem to be the limiting factor rather than film composition or impurities. The results show that ALD is suited to fabricate NbN thin films as a material for large-area detector arrays and for new detector designs and devices requiring uniform superconducting thin films with precise thickness control.

Wafer-level uniformity of atomic-layer-deposited niobium nitride thin films for quantum devices
Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A 39, 052401 (2021);

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Friday, July 2, 2021

Future foldable and flexible Display with NCD’s ALD encapsulation technology

In the global market of smart phones, competition on mobile’s form factors has been an important issue since foldable smart phones had launched following cured ones. Samsung electronics applied in-folding form factor to Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z Flip, and Huawei used out-folding form factor to Mate X. New two or three folding form factor has been unveiling to the public beyond in-folding and out folding displays.

Flexible displays consist of Thin Film Transistor (TFT), Organic Light Emission Diode (OLED) and multi encapsulation layers. Generally organic and inorganic laminated layers is used for foldable displays and PECVD has applied to deposit inorganic materials.

Basically, Inorganic layers is lack of brittleness then their encapsulation property is degraded with continuous mechanical stress. ALD method for TFE was considered instead of PECVD due to their excellent encapsulation characteristics with thicknesses of few tens of nanometers. The reliability of the tool blocked applying to production at that time.

But because of the superior encapsulation property using ALD, many universities, institutes as well as display companies have been developing ALD inorganic layers for flexible displays and evaluating hundreds of thousand times folding test considering actual use recently.

LucidaTM GD Series ALD

The customer which has NCD’s Lucida GD Series ALD, measured folding test on flexible displays with inorganic layers using ALD instead of using PECVD and showed great performance under actual display operation. The 5.85 inch AMOLED display panels for in-folding and out-folding consisted of encapsulation structure of 30nm Al2O3 ALD/ 8㎛-Polymer/ 30nm Al2O3 and was tested in-folding and out-folding evaluation of 200,000 times with bending radius of 2R under light status after the 1st reliability test of RA 60℃/90% for 500hr. There were no dark spots on the panels after finishing the folding measurement. The 2nd reliability test of RA 60℃/90% for 48hr followed folding evaluation and then the TFE status was examined without any cracks.

Using NCD’s large area batch ALD system for foldable phones could obtain superior encapsulation property and flexibility with very thin inorganic layers to current ones using PECVD as well as provide great productivity because the batch tool can process lots of panels at one time.

Then NCD really looks forward to applying its large area batch ALD technology to encapsulation of future flexible display with in/out-folding and very small bending radius because of having solved the previous issues without both reliability and productivity that the reason is why ALD equipment didn’t apply for mass production of flexible display.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Picosun’s PicoArmour(TM) reduces semiconductor manufacturing costs

ESPOO, Finland, 2nd of June 2021 – Picosun Group has pending patent rights for an ALD enabled corrosion protection solution against plasma etch that will bring benefits in semiconductor fabrication processes in terms of throughput, film uniformity and conformality. With PicoArmourTM the corrosion protection can be achieved more efficiently compared with the industry solutions commonly used today.

Wafer fabrication process flows include several steps where plasma etching is necessary. An inevitable consequence of using etching chemicals is that the tool itself will be etched. A common industrial solution for reducing the tool damage is applying a corrosion-resistant coating to the etch tool using for example PVD or spray coating​ with Y2O3. Compared to only using Y2O3, PicoArmour(TM) enables an up to five times faster and a more cost-effective way of producing the coating. Compared to Al2O3, the coating can be five times more durable.* Also, the maintenance interval of etch tools can be increased which also translates to significant reduction of manufacturing costs.

“Picosun’s approach with PicoArmour(TM) is to combine the highly-etch-resistant Y2O3 ALD process with more robust ALD processes. A high performance ALD corrosion barrier combining the speed and convenience of Al2O3 process with the durability of Y2O3 can be achieved by carefully controlling the film composition. With ALD, the protective effect can be achieved with thinner films, which in turn leads to material savings and a more environmentally friendly process”, states Juhana Kostamo, VP, Industrial Business Area of Picosun Group.

To learn more about PicoArmour(TM) and a study Picosun has done related to protective coatings against plasma damage, join Picosun talk at the virtual ALD 2021 conference on June 29 at 10:25 am EDT.

Tier 1 semiconductor automotive supplier selects Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology’s ALE technology for it’s GaN power electronic program

Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology announced May 25, 2021, (LINK) that a leading German semiconductor manufacturer to the automotive industry has selected its PlasmaPro®100 Cobra® system for the development of next generation GaN power electronic devices.

The PlasmaPro®100 Cobra® system is designed for superior uniformity, high- precision and low-damage process solutions. The production-proven system allows for rapid change between wafer sizes up to 200 mm and the cost of ownership is one of the lowest in the market.

The PlasmaPro®100 Cobra® system will be incorporated into the R&D section and will be used for development of GaN power devices. GaN power devices are gaining market share in fast charger applications and offer benefits in Electric Vehicle power management systems.

We continue to see very encouraging signals in the form of increasingly proactive customer engagement and clear market preparation and positioning activities from significant industry players for the emerging Wide Band Gap power electronic market.

"Our Atomic Scale Processing etch solution being selected by this world leading manufacturer for their GaN power electronics programme is an important strategic win for Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology" comments Klaas Wisniewski, Plasma Technology’s Strategic Business Development Director, who also added: "The GaN based power electronic market is very dynamic with improvements to both performance and cost expected at each design iteration.. This reiterates the importance of our strategy to focus on atomic scale processing solutions such as atomic layer deposition (ALD) and atomic layer etching (ALE). We are pleased that such a leading automotive semiconductor company recognizes the benefits our solutions deliver.

The PlasmaPro 100 ALE delivers precise process control of etching for next-generation semiconductor devices. Specially designed for processes such as recess etching for GaN HEMT applications and nanoscale layer etching, the system's digital/cyclical etch process offers low damage, smooth surfaces.

  • Digital/Cyclical etch process – etching equivalent of ALD
  • Low damage
  • Smooth etch surface
  • Superb etch depth control
  • Ideal for nanoscale layer etching (e.g. 2D Materials)
  • Wide range of processes and applications

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Congratulations to 2021 ALD Innovator Awardee Stacey Bent (Stanford University, USA)!

The ALD conferences for the next coming years were just announced!

The AVS ALD and ALE conferences for the next coming years were just announced!

2022 - Ghent, Belgium
2023 - Bellevue, Washington, USA
2024 - Helsinki, Finland

2024 is the year when ALD celebrates 50 years since Dr Suntolas famous patent and also celebrates all great ALD persons that turn fifty that year. 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Picosun strengthens its presence in Southeast Asia

ESPOO, Finland, 24th June 2021 – Picosun Group extends its global sales and service partner network further by signing a partner agreement with Hermes-Epitek Corporation Pte. Ltd. Hermes-Epitek Corporation, headquartered in Taiwan, is one of the world’s largest high-tech equipment distributors. The company provides equipment for semiconductor and optoelectronic manufacturing, as well as tech services and parts sales.

“We look forward to cooperate as Picosun’s sales representative and external field service provider targeting both 8-inch and 12-inch ALD markets in all Southeast Asia countries”, states Teo Kim Leong, Director, Hermes-Epitek Corporation.

“Southeast Asia is one of Picosun’s important market areas, where the demand for industrial ALD solutions is constantly increasing. For almost ten years now, Picosun has successfully provided world leading ALD solutions to numerous customers and partners in both academies and industries in Southeast Asia. I’m happy that with the partnership with Hermes-Epitek Corporation we are able to serve our customers in the region even better”, says Edwin Wu, CEO, Picosun Asia Pte. Ltd.

Picosun provides the most advanced AGILE ALD® (Atomic Layer Deposition) thin film coating solutions for global industries. Picosun’s ALD solutions enable technological leap into the future, with turn-key production processes and unmatched, pioneering expertise in the field – dating back to the invention of the technology itself. Today, PICOSUN® ALD equipment are in daily manufacturing use in numerous leading industries around the world. Picosun is based in Finland, with subsidiaries in Germany, USA, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, China mainland and Taiwan, offices in India and France, and a world-wide sales and support network. Visit

More information:
Edwin Wu
Picosun Asia Pte. Ltd.
Tel. +358 40 480 3449

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Picosun is part of world's first wooden satellite coated by ALD

Picosun is part of world's first wooden satellite, Wisa Woodsat, launched to space during this year. The wood used in the satellite is ALD coated with Picosun tools to make the wood impermeable and meet the requirements of the most demanding environment.

WISA WOODSAT is a nanosatellite based on the popular CubeSat standard. The satellite measures roughly 10 x 10 x 10 cm, which is equivalent of 1U CubeSat. The satellite is designed and built in Finland and it will be launched to space during the fall of 2021 with a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from the Mahia Peninsula launch complex in New Zealand.

The mission of the satellite is to test the applicability of wooden materials, especially WISA-Birch plywood in spacecraft structures and expose it to extreme space conditions, such as heat, cold, vacuum and radiation, for an extended period of time.


Saturday, June 12, 2021

Vinova fund Swedish AlixLabs Breakthrough green technology in Nanostructures Miniaturization for Electronic Chips

Vinnova has decided to grant AlixLabs application to Innovative Startups step 2 "Breakthrough green technology in Nanostructures Miniaturization for Electronic Chips" in the spring of 2021. 140 applications were received for the call, of which 35 were given grants. The assessment is based on a weighting of the six main criteria Relevance, Potential, Team, Implementation, Sustainability, and Gender Equality. The applications have been assessed in competition with each other. AlixLabs application was judged to meet the criteria to a great extent. 

AlixLabs aim to validate our breakthrough green technology for nanofabrication of nanostructures for applications in electronic chips. It is to demonstrate that Alixlabs' method is technically viable for the production of low dimensional transistors down to 2 nm node size, in line with the newly designed European Flagship "A European Initiative on Processors and semiconductor technologies" (LINK) to develop next-generation chips and 2 nm technology with €146.5 B, supported by 22 EU members. This demonstration will minimize the risks for AlixLabs entering the semiconductor industry market and ecosystem.

Miniaturization of electronic components, known as Moore's law, is fundamental to the entire IT explosion leading to the fast processing of data. Production of sub 10 nm chips requires advanced equipment such as extreme UV lithography (EUVL) tools, costing over €100 million, not affordable to all manufacturing companies or adding extreme investment cost for those companies still in the scaling race. Our innovative patented technology (WO2017157902A1) enables miniaturization without requiring or reducing the number of process steps using costly EUVL. This way, less financially powerful manufacturers (fabs) can get back to semiconductor production chains on level terms with large competitors from the USA and Asia. Our technology uses Atomic Layer Etching (ALE) for pitch splitting of nanostructures, which allows for efficient and high-volume nanopatterning and offers to reduce operating cost up to 35 - 50% and energy use and greenhouse emissions by 25 - 50% per Lithography mask layer requiring advanced Immersion base multiple patterning technology or EUVL single and double exposure.


We envision two breakthrough developments in this project:

(1) Application of ALE pitch splitting nanofabrication for electronic chip manufacturing down to 2 nm Foundry node size
(2) Demonstration of first transistors produced by ALE pitch splitting

Vinnova is the Swedish government agency that administers state funding for research and development. The agency's mission as defined by the government is to promote the development of efficient and innovative Swedish systems within the areas of technology, transportation, communication and labour.

About AlixLabs AB:

AlixLabs ( is an innovative startup enabling the semiconductor industry to scale down Logic and Memory components in a cost-effective manner by the use of ALE Pitch Splitting (APS).

Background Information:

Applied Materials to present New Innovations Needed to Continue Scaling Advanced Logic (June 16)

Applied Materials (Santa Clara, USA): The semiconductor industry is at a crossroads. Demand for chips has never been greater as we enter the early stages of a new wave of growth fueled by the Internet of Things, Big Data and AI. At the same time, it’s become apparent that conventional Moore’s Law 2D scaling techniques are no longer able to deliver the consistent improvements in power, performance, area-cost and time to market (PPACt) that chipmakers have long relied on. This is particularly the case for logic chips, which serve as the main processing engine in nearly every electronic product and where power efficiency and performance are critical.

To shed light on this issue, Applied Materials is hosting an online Logic Master Class on Wednesday, June 16. I will be joined by other experts from Applied and the industry to discuss the logic scaling roadmap, including challenges and solutions for delivering continued improvements in PPACt. We will be exploring several different areas, including transistor and interconnect scaling, patterning and design technology co-optimization (DTCO). The common denominator underlying all of these areas is the need to supplement classic 2D scaling with a combination of approaches that includes new chip architectures, new 3D structures, novel materials, new ways to shrink features and new ways to connect chips with advanced packaging.

Source: Applied Materials Blog (LINK)

Primary modules of a FinFET are channel and shallow trench isolation (1), high-k metal gate (2) and transistor source/drain resistance (3). (Credit: Applied Materials)

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Picosun’s PicoArmour(TM) reduces semiconductor manufacturing costs

ESPOO, Finland, 2nd of June 2021 – Picosun Group has pending patent rights for an ALD enabled corrosion protection solution against plasma etch that will bring benefits in semiconductor fabrication processes in terms of throughput, film uniformity and conformality. With PicoArmourTM the corrosion protection can be achieved more efficiently compared with the industry solutions commonly used today.
Wafer fabrication process flows include several steps where plasma etching is necessary. An inevitable consequence of using etching chemicals is that the tool itself will be etched. A common industrial solution for reducing the tool damage is applying a corrosion-resistant coating to the etch tool using for example PVD or spray coating​ with Y2O3. Compared to only using Y2O3, PicoArmourTM enables an up to five times faster and a more cost-effective way of producing the coating. Compared to Al2O3, the coating can be five times more durable.* Also, the maintenance interval of etch tools can be increased which also translates to significant reduction of manufacturing costs.

“Picosun’s approach with PicoArmourTM is to combine the highly-etch-resistant Y2O3 ALD process with more robust ALD processes. A high performance ALD corrosion barrier combining the speed and convenience of Al2O3 process with the durability of Y2O3 can be achieved by carefully controlling the film composition. With ALD, the protective effect can be achieved with thinner films, which in turn leads to material savings and a more environmentally friendly process”, states Juhana Kostamo, VP, Industrial Business Area of Picosun Group.

To learn more about PicoArmourTM and a study Picosun has done related to protective coatings against plasma damage, join Picosun talk at the virtual ALD 2021 conference on June 29 at 10:25 am EDT.
Register here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

South Korean equipment makers recorded mixed results in the first quarter of 2021

출처 : THE ELEC, Korea Electronics Industry Media( - South Korean equipment makers recorded mixed results in the first quarter of 2021.

  • Fab equipment vendors posted high growth, while display equipment firms underperformed.
  • Fab equipment makers benefited from aggressive spending by semiconductor companies.
  • CVD/ALD equipment companies showed good growth, see below (Jusung, Wonik IPD, Eugene Technologies

Semes, Samsung Electronics’ fab equipment subsidiary, recorded 870.6 billion won in sales, an increase of 62.3% from a year prior. It recorded 112.8 billion won in operating income, an increase of 40.5% over the same time period. The growth likely stems from Samsung starting to put in equipment to its P2 chip line at its Pyeontaek plant during the quarter. Overheat transport accounted for 60% of the sales recorded by Semes during the quarter.

SFA recorded 355.6 billion won in sales and 42.3 billion won in operating income, a drop of 3.3% and 1.6%, respectively, a year prior. Non-display business accounted for 65.1% of its sales. SFA, which previously focused on display kits, managed to record level earnings to a year prior thanks to other business areas.

Wonik IPS recorded 254.5 billion won in revenue and 24.2 billion won in operating income, a surge of 39.9% and 68.1%, respectively, from a year prior. The firm previously focused on fab equipment for use in memory chip production. But it has begun supplying kits for foundry beginning last year, which helped growth.

Eugene Technology recorded 100.7 billion won in revenue and 30.7 billion won in operating income. The company recorded an operating margin rate of 30.5%. Its LPCVD equipment supplied to SK Hynix for the latter’s M16 DRAM fab led the growth.

Jusung Engineering posted 75.3 billion won in sales in the quarter, double that of the year prior. It turned a profit from a year prior and posted 16 billion won in operating income. The company won the order for atomic layer deposition kits from SK Hynix for use in next-generation DRAMs. Jusung is the sole supplier of the kits.

Hanmi Semiconductor recorded 70.9 billion won in sales, a jump of 79% from a year prior. Its operating income increased 160% year-on-year to 19.3 billion won. It won 22 orders during the quarter. It has signed supply deals with SK Hynix, Amkor Technology Korea, ASE, NXP, Nanya, SPIL and others for a combined worth of 87 billion won.

YIK recorded 67.5 billion won in sales and 9.7 billion won in operating income, a jump of 99.7% and 177.1%, respectively, from a year prior. The firm mainly provides electrical die sorting equipment. The firm is seeing more orders from Samsung, having signed a 155.3 billion won deal with the tech giant in the first quarter alone.

South Korean fab equipment makers are expected to post solid growth throughout 2021 from increased spending this year by Samsung and SK Hynix. SK Hynix had said in the conference call for the first quarter that it plans to execute some of its spending it planned for 2022 earlier to this year.

SEMI is expecting global fab equipment spending to increase 15.5% this year to US$70 billion. Meanwhile, South Korean display equipment makers underperformed during the first quarter.

Samsung Display and LG Display have been conservative with their spending due to uncertainties surrounding the display market. But increased spending in OLED from Chinese panel makers such as BOE and Tianma staved off a huge dip in profitability.

Only few companies recorded growth, such as AP Systems, which saw sales drop 6.9% year-on-year but operating income surge 53.2% over the same time period. The company benefited from laser annealing equipment supplied to BOE for the B12 line.

Youngwoo DSP saw a surge in its operating income from supplies to its Chinese customers. KC Tech saw sales jump 21.1% but operating income remained flat. Top Engineering saw 9.6 billion won in operating loss from the 6.1 billion won operating loss posted by subsidiary Powerlogics. Dong A Eltek recorded 2.3 billion won in operating loss, though sales doubled. The firm said increased cost from the pandemic stunted growth.

Charm Engineering continued to record loss. HB Technology, Toptec and Philoptics all turned to the red. 

Local display equipment makers are expected to see a turnaround starting in the fourth quarter when Samsung Display and LG Display decide on new spending plans around the same time.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Atomic billiards helps to understand Atomic Layer Deposition

In the beautiful German city of Münster, scientists are playing games on an atomic scale to help ALD developers understand what is going on in their process. Critical ALD parameters, such as the evolution of film closure and thickness with increasing cycle number are determined with a game of billiards at the atomic level. This game is called LEIS (Low Energy Ion Scattering), the most surface specific chemical analysis technique available to the surface scientist.

The fundamental principles behind LEIS are surprisingly simple: In an ultrahigh vacuum chamber, light charged particles (ions) are aimed at the sample where they collide with the atoms in and on the sample. These collisions obey the same laws of physics as collisions between large objects, such as balls. This means that the ions are bouncing (or scattering) back with high speed (or energy) when they collide with a heavy atom and with low energy after a collision with a light atom. The energy of the scattered ions is measured to determine the mass of the surface atoms.

Figure 1: The principle of LEIS: When ions collide with surface atoms, their energy after the collision depends on the mass of the atoms that they collided with. A LEIS spectrum shows the number of returned ions as a function of their energy. This represents the surface concentrations of different elements, sorted after their mass.

LEIS helps to develop and optimize ALD processes

We show an example of a co-operation between scientists at Tascon in Münster and the ALD experts from ASM Microchemistry Oy in Helsinki, Finland where the initial formation of a GaSb film on SiOx was investigated.

Figure 2 shows a set of LEIS spectra for the increasing number of ALD cycles recorded with Neon ions. There are two peaks due to collisions with Gallium (Ga) and Antimony (Sb) atoms in the outermost atomic layer of these samples. Antimony atoms are heavier than Gallium atoms and therefore the peak from collisions with Antimony lies at higher energy than the Gallium peak.

Figure 2: 5 keV 20Ne+ LEIS spectra of increasing cycle numbers of GaSb deposited on SiOx
As one would expect, the amount of Gallium in the outermost atomic layer is increasing continuously with increasing cycle number (from red to purple) showing how the fraction of Gallium increases in the outermost atomic layer. The Antimony behaves differently, though. After increasing initially, its signal goes through a maximum (the green spectrum), and with increasing cycle number the amount of Antimony at the surface decreases. With this valuable information, the ALD expert can optimize the deposition process.

LEIS separately analyzes the outermost atomic layer and the layers below it

As we have seen, LEIS is sensitive to the outermost atomic layer of a sample. The used noble gas ions (Helium or Neon) lose their charge as soon as they enter the material. Since the instrument can only detect ions, the neutral Helium or Neon atoms that collided in deeper layers are not detected. Therefore, the peaks in the spectrum from figure 2 represent Gallium and Antimony at the surface.

Particularly when Helium ions are used, there is a second effect. A Helium atom, that collided in deeper layers, may lose an electron as it leaves the surface. The probability for this re-ionization is small enough to recognize the peaks in the spectra, but large enough to cause an additional signal in the spectrum, as shown in figure 3, a set of spectra recorded with Helium ions from the same GaSb deposition study.

Figure 3: 7 keV 4He+ LEIS spectra of increasing cycle numbers of GaSb deposited on SiOx.
Again, we see the Gallium peak increasing and the Antimony peak going through a maximum. This time, we also see the Silicon (Si) peak decreasing with increasing cycle number, confirming that the substrate is getting covered. But we also see that with increasing cycle number shoulders appear on the left side of the Gallium and Antimony peaks (indicated by the dashed arrows).

These shoulders are caused by collisions from Gallium and Antimony atoms below the surface. The Helium atoms have slowed down while traveling through the sample on their way to and from the colliding atom. The more the shoulder extends to lower energy, the more the atoms have slowed down and the deeper the colliding atom was in the sample. The fact that the shoulders are extending more and more to the left with increasing cycle number shows that the film is getting thicker.

Since LEIS is a quantitative analysis technique, the surface fractions can be determined from the spectra. Figure 4 shows a ternary diagram for the composition of the sample surface with increasing cycle number. It clearly shows that initially Gallium and Antimony are deposited together. But as the film is almost closed, the Gallium deposition starts to dominate.

Figure 4: Ternary diagram showing the surface composition of the samples with increasing cycle number. The colors of the data points correspond to the colors of the spectra.
This example shows the value of LEIS in the study of ALD. Because of its surface specificity and the need for ever thinner films, the role of LEIS in ALD is expected to increase in the coming years.


The GaSb films in this study were kindly provided by ASM Microchemistry Oy, Helsinki, Finland.

Guest blog by Rik ter Veen and Karsten Lamann, Tascon GmbH, Münster, Germany

About the authors:

Rik ter Veen and Karsten Lamann are scientists at Tascon GmbH, a service provider and consulting company for the analysis of surfaces, films and interface for over 20 years with two locations in Germany and one in the USA. In addition to LEIS, the subject of this blog, Tascon offers surface and materials analysis with techniques such as ToF-SIMS, XPS and SEM-EDX. If you are interested in their services or have questions about LEIS, or other techniques, the authors can be contacted through their website.