Over recent decades, vacuum processing has seen major progression. Only sixty years ago, high-vacuum (HV) conditions were thought of as an expensive scientific novelty, to be used only within academia.
Moreover, scientists were not yet able to reproduce the pressures below 10-9 millibar (mbar), which are representative of ultra-high vacuum (UHV), primarily due to the limitations of contemporary vacuum components (adapters, pumps, valves, etc.).
The UHV pressure regime has since been unlocked thanks to advancements in vacuum components, while vacuum processing has been made accessible to professionals outside academia through more recent industry developments (Industry 3.0) and technological improvements.
As such, the modern field of vacuum processing bears little resemblance to that of the 1960s. It is now routine to replicate HV/UHV conditions at an industrial scale for processing methods ranging from chemical-vapor deposition (CVD) to ion beam etching to pulsed laser deposition, to sputtering, to surface analysis, and to many others.
These advanced processes each depend on a series of vacuum components, and their market value is indicative of their great importance. The semiconductor industry alone used $2.5 billion worth of vacuum components in 2017, which constituted the greatest material expense for semiconductor original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
These components included fittings, feedthroughs, adapters, flanges, and in-vacuum cabling, among others. As the global field of vacuum processing continues to grow, the market value of vacuum components is predicted to reach $3.1 billion by 20231.
This high value is a reflection of the pioneering work that has compelled the field of vacuum engineering forward. The novel capabilities in vacuum component engineering for custom designs and exclusive applications are also indicative of the great progression in this field.
Custom Vacuum Adapters and Feedthroughs
Where a number of integrated systems are needed, adapters are vital vacuum components. They are employed to guarantee a hermetic seal and to uphold ideal vacuum leak rates at a range of interfaces. The capacity to build these according to specific designs and without prohibitive costs has enabled significant progression in system design. Vacuum adapter types include:
- CF flange to other fittings/flanges
- KF mating flange to other fittings/flanges
- Electrical connectivity assemblies, with Sub-D, Coax and Triaxial feedthroughs
Allectra supplies both CF and KF flanges in 304L or 316L stainless steel, allowing manufacturers to substitute fitting types from other HV/UHV applications. Also available through Allectra is a broad range of electrical feedthroughs, including Sub-D, Coaxial, and the innovative Triaxial, with air and vacuum connectors, for low/high current, high-frequency, or voltage measurements. These enable the utmost sensitivity for electrical signals for the in-vacuum process.
References and Further Reading
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Allectra Limited.
For more information on this source, please visit Allectra Limited.