Tag Archives: plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition

Picosun Oy and atomic layer deposition (ALD)

Finnish company, Picosun Oy, reports in a Jan. 2, 2012 news item on Nanowerk about a successful research project on solar cells undertaken as part of the European Union 7th Framework Programme. From the news item on Nanowerk,

… The goal of this multinational, inter-European, three years (2009-2011) project combining the efforts of both scientific and industrial partners has been to dramatically increase the efficiency of solar cells and reduce the costs of their manufacturing. This has been achieved with novel, innovative, silicon nanorod based concept. The amount of active photovoltaic material (Si) can be significantly reduced by growing the light-trapping nanorod “forests” (thickness from < 1µm to a few µm at most) on cheaper substrates such as glass or flexible foils. …

An ultrathin ALD-deposited Al2O3 film serves ideally this purpose, and the gas-phase, surface-controlled and self-limiting nature of the ALD process ensures that even the deepest and narrowest between-the-rods nooks and crannies will be reliably covered with 100 % uniform, conformal and pinhole- and defect-free passivation film. Another central cell component where ALD has shown its indispensability is the transparent conductive oxide (TCO) layer that works as the current collector on the top of the cell. Different TCO deposition methods were investigated in the course of the project, and ALD turned out to be the ideal method regarding both the TCO film quality and the scalability of the technique, due to Picosun’s fast, efficient and easy-to-use HVM (High Volume Manufacturing) batch ALD system, which was developed specifically during the project ROD-SOL.

“Solar photovoltaics still remains one of the fastest growing industries in the world. To enable more efficient utilization of this free, clean energy, the efficiencies of the solar cells have to increase and their manufacturing costs decrease. ROD-SOL’s silicon nanorod cell concept shows promising potential to this, and we at Picosun have been especially satisfied of the ALD’s central role in realizing this novel, innovative, high efficiency solar electricity converter”, states Picosun’s Managing Director Juhana Kostamo.

More technical details are available in the news item on Nanowerk. I last wrote about Picosun Oy in a July 11, 2011 posting about a collaboration between the company and Carleton University researchers Sean Barry and Jason Coyle on a technique for plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition.

PEALD at Simon Fraser University’s 4D LABS

Cambridge NanoTech and 4D LABS, located in Vancouver, Canada, have made a deal. (The PEALD in the title for this posting stands for Plasma-enhanced Atomic Layer Deposition system.) From the Sept. 13, 2011 news item on Nanowerk,

4D LABS, a research institute for innovation in the design, development, demonstration and delivery of advanced materials research at Simon Fraser University (SFU), and Cambridge NanoTech announced today a strategic partnership as they work together to develop new and novel precursor applications for real world use. 4D LABS’ Nanofabrication Facility through the financial support of NSERC [Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council], CFI [Canada Foundation for Innovation], BCKDF, and SFU expands their capabilities with the addition of Cambridge NanoTech’s Fiji Plasma-enhanced Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) system.

This is very exciting as it builds on my July 11, 2011 posting which featured the development of the PEALD process. It had just been announced that researchers at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada) developed it collaboratively with the Finnish company, Picosun Oy.

Here’s more about the equipment SFU’s (Simon Fraser University) 4D LABS have purchased from Cambridge NanoTech,

The Fiji, capable of both thermal and plasma processing, will enable users of the 4D LABS Nanofabrication Facility, a Class 100/ISO 5 clean room, to develop new thin film technologies and processes. “This is the first ALD system as part of an open access user facility in British Columbia and will be available to users from a diverse range of fields,” explains Byron Gates, Director of the Nanofabrication Facility at 4D LABS. “We support both academic and industrial users in 4D LABS, assisting them with their materials research and development needs by working with them on a one-on-one basis. These needs can span from a new material or component, to a final device or system. Plasma ALD offers even more options in terms of the range and the quality of the films we can deliver.”

As for future collaboration,

The collaboration includes plans to further advance material development by creating new chemical precursor and processes for ALD to be co-developed by Cambridge NanoTech, SFU’s Department of Chemistry, and 4D LABS. “We’ve already begun planning our first films development project,” explained Eric Deguns, Senior Research Scientist at Cambridge NanoTech. “Our films development will be focused on electronics and clean energy applications, and films that will be finely tuned to meet specific device needs. By expanding our precursor applications, we will be able offer new materials that can be deposited through ALD onto everyday products.” These materials are being sought for their novel electro-optical, photo-elastic, piezoelectric, and non-linear properties.

I look forward to hearing more about 4D LABS as this collaboration progresses.

Carleton University and Picosun Oy develop new plasma-enhanced process for atomic layer depostion

Finnish company, Picosun Oy along with Professor Sean Barry and Jason Coyle at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada) have developed a new process for atomic layer deposition (from the July 11, 2011 news item on Nanowerk),

Picosun Oy, Finland-based global manufacturer of state-of-the-art Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) equipment, reports successful process for preparation of gold thin films with plasma-enhanced ALD (PEALD) method first time in the world. Gold films were grown in Picosun’s SUNALE™ ALD reactor equipped with the same company’s Picoplasma™ plasma source system on top of ruthenium underlayers, from precursor chemicals developed and synthesized by Prof. Sean Barry and Ph.D. student Jason Coyle from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.

“Coinage metals (Cu, Ag, Au) are poised to play a significant role also in sensing technologies, where they will be crucial in signal enhancement and as anchor surfaces for organic sensing elements. Using plasma to deposit these metals as an ALD process widens drastically the deposition temperature window, permitting the employment of such sensitive substrates as modified fiber optic filaments and plastics. The design of the Picoplasma™ tool allows for excellent uniformity over a wide deposition area, while minimizing substrate damage from the plasma source”, states Prof. Barry from Carleton University.