Research objectives and content
Thin Film applications like hard and decorative coatings are used in many technical fields. For production on a small and medium scale the samples have to be transferred separately between chambers for each of the production steps. For this transfer, the cleanliness conditions can not be fulfilled which limits the quality and yield of the production process. This factor acts as a barrier, making small and medium scale production less economical. Within the frame of the project, a universal sample handling system will be developed which can be used in all of the technological steps including plasma etching and cleaning, ion beam treatment and thin film deposition. Transfer between the technological steps has to be realised without breaking vacuum or disturbing the clean conditions. The central processing unit will be designed in a modular form with flexible interfaces, which allows real-time control of the several technological processes and a large flexibility in the sample geometry, material and choice of process steps.
To achieve these aims the following conditions must be fulfilled: a) automatic handling of the system b) capabilities of sample movement, especially rotation c) the ability to carry 4 samples of 3 inches (75 mm) in size d) the incorporation of a central processing unit capable of carrying additional modules to control the single processes e) system operation under vacuum conditions which fulfils all of the conditions for plasma treatment f) the ability to transfer the system into vacuum using a load-lock (construction height 20 mm)
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
During the training period, the grant will get familiar with the production profile and the R&D activities of the company. He will show his capability of making independent scientific and technological contributions to the product division of the company. The result of the project will be a sample handling system allowing the handling of samples in different chambers and enabling sequential treatments of the samples without degrading the cleanliness of the process. This system will be designed to be flexible so that it can be used in different production lines and can be adapted by the customer to different technical demandings. In the case of a successful research project and good collaboration with the current personnel, the grant holder will be offered a long term contract to continue his work.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)
The work will be carried out in a industrial company and the product will be subsequently used as a product of that company. The project has been designed in collaboration with the R&D-group of the company and is embedded in their present activities.