At the request of the topteam of the Topsector High Tech Systems and Materials (HTSM), FOM en STW organize, in accordance with the Materials Innovation Institute (M2i), six High Tech Materials (HTM) calls. This spring the 5th High Tech Materials (HTM) call took place with the objective to stimulate the materials research in the Netherlands. Recently, the board of FOM has decided to finance eight materials research projects from this call for almost 2.8 million euros, of which half of which is matched by industry.

One of these projects is “MicroAPPs”, led by prof.dr. F. Roozeboom (TU/e and TNO), which will focus on the understanding of the fundamental chemical reactions which are not in (thermical) equilibrium and which take place in atmosferic plasmas to deposit thin layers. This project  will particularly address the design and implementation of in situ, real-time diagnostic techniques in prototype reactors where ultrathin films are deposited by using Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) for applications in the manufacture of e.g.,  solar cells, displays, foil batteries, etc.

The basic understanding of physico-chemical processes in plasma during the deposition in itself is not new, yet it is mostly restricted to low-pressure plasmas. However, the industry is very interested in atmospheric processes.

Atmospheric plasma processes have several advantages:

  • much lower process temperatures (from typical 400°C to less than 200°C), which clear the path of processing temperature sensitive polymer foils, important for Holst Centre, Solliance and its partners
  • new or improved materials, containing less defects, having higher conductivity, improved isolation, improved homogeneity of layers at large surface areas
  • processing flexible foils at higher production speeds, enabling roll-to-roll processing and cost reduction.

Because of these potential improvements, a large consortium contribute financially and substantively to this project. Partners in this consortium are Holst Centre, Solliance, TNO, ASM International, BASF, Levitech, Orbotech, Roth & Rau BV, SoLayTech en Xycarb Ceramics.

The PhD research will be conducted by both TNO/Solliance in the group Thin Film Technologies as TU/e (group Plasma & Materials Processing), and parallel to the broader, existing transition program Thin Layer Manufacturing (2015-2018), where TNO has de lead. Forerunner of this PhD project is from September 2nd project (TKI), “ToMicroAPPs”, launched in collaboration with TU / e (Stan Akkermans Institute) to design and make a preliminary test set by PDEng student N. Skornyakov (2015- 2016).