Size matters (and speed too)
High-throughput thin film coating with large-area spatial ALD equipment
In November last year, we shared the first news about our new spatial ALD equipment that works with moving sheet substrates. We also promised our dear readers more information later about how we would make spatial ALD bigger, faster and more flexible. Now we have been running pilots with different materials for a couple of months, and it is time to keep that promise and share more details.
First, let’s talk about substrate size.
To give you an idea what large-area spatial ALD means in practice, we have taken pictures of our new machine and pilot production. In the picture above, you can see members of our spatial ALD team holding a sample substrate we have tested the spatial ALD equipment with. The size of the sample is 1,5m x 0,6m, with an effective coating area of 0,4m times 0,5m. That’s what we call a large spatial ALD substrate at Beneq.
Secondly, it is all about the speed of coating.
Low cost of ownership is essential in industrial applications of atomic layer deposition. One of the main obstacles of ALD coatings in industrial use, where larger surfaces need to be coated, has been the slowness of the coating process.
With ALD on the Move™, throughput moves to the next decade. Processing time of large-area substrates like the one pictured above is counted in tens of seconds to minutes. When combined with time savings in loading etc., this brings the cost of ownership of atomic layer deposition down to totally new levels.
Thirdly, industrial ALD thin film coating is about process flexibility.
Our pilot equipment has already been tested with the most common chemistries of atomic layer deposition, such as TMA, TiCl4, DEZ, H2O and H2S, with good results. The list of materials and precursors will grow as we proceed with our pilots, but the essential large-area ALD toolkit is already up and running.
The ability to coat different kinds and sizes of substrates also adds to the flexibility of our new equipment. By changing substrate adapters, we can work with glass substrates (e.g. 100mm x 100mm, 200mm x 200mm and 400mm x 500mm) and wafers (4’’ and 6’’, round or square, and 8"). The smaller the size of substrate, the more pieces we can process at one go. To give an example: it only takes 10 seconds to process eight pieces of 6’’ square wafers with a 5 nm of Al2O3 coating! And we are only getting started with the ramp up…
Ready for new ALD applications!
The possibility to process large moving substrates lays the ground for completely new applications of thin film coating. We already have some really interesting discussions going on about using our new equipment in areas where ALD has never been used before, but we are also looking for more pilot customers for the process from different industries.
Oh, there’s one more thing we almost forgot to mention in the middle of all the excitement: an additional benefit of our new spatial ALD machine is that it coats only one side of the substrate. Say goodbye to wrap-around!
Interested in the details? Have an idea where spatial ALD could be used in the industry? Want to come and see yourself? Contact our sales team for more information!