The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has recently installed and commissioned two world leading atomic layer deposition tools from Beneq for the development of conformal nano-scale coatings used for electronic and optoelectronic device and encapsulation based applications.
The recent installation builds upon CPI’s existing expertise in these areas, allowing companies working with CPI to develop and scale up a variety of device and encapsulation materials from laboratory scale right through to roll to roll pilot production.
Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) is applied as a specialist barrier coating technique used for the protection of optoelectronic devices and is being utilised by CPI to add moisture ultra-barrier protection layers to flexible polymer substrates used to produce optoelectronic devices using sensitive active electronic materials. Thin films produced using the ALD method are cost efficient, defect free and completely conformal, thus providing superior barriers and surface passivation compared with other deposition techniques.
These properties make them ideal for numerous kinds of critical applications that utilise flexible films such as Organic Light Emitting Devices (OLED), flexible display screens, photovoltaic cells and wearable electronics to name but a few. As the cost of conventional multilayer barrier films is typically prohibitively high for large area applications and a thin layer of inorganic barrier film produced using roll to roll ALD technology provides a feasible cost effective solution for the commercialisation of these novel applications. In addition, CPI is applying ALD to other crtitical device layers that benefit from the unique benefits of the process.
The first of the two systems is the Beneq TFS 500. The multi-chamber system is designed for the batch production of ALD films and can handle single substrates of up to GEN 2 size (370 mm x 470 mm). The WCS 600 is a commercial roll to roll ALD system and provides a complimentary step in the scale up of batch ALD technologies. The system enables clients to scale up large area prototypes within the pilot scale manufacturing conditions needed to speed up the development of high performance barrier materials on flexible films and flexible electronic devices. The roll to roll ALD system is capable of handling films up to 600 mm wide.
"We are very pleased and proud to be working with CPI in the commercialisation of next generation electronics," says Dr Mikko Söderlund, Technical Sales Director, Beneq. "CPI is a forerunner in the use of ALD for conformable nano-scale coatings. I am confident that CPI’s ALD expertise will accelerate the adoption of this disruptive barrier technology. They are a perfect partner for us to jointly develop the technology further and make it accessible to the industry."
Alf Smith, Business Development Manager at CPI, adds:
“ALD offers great potential to achieve a technological advantage in the commercialisation of applications such as PV, OLED, microelectronics and sensors. The replacement of conventional layers with a high performance and low cost flexible conformal nanoscale layer technology is of great interest to CPI and our partners. The roll to roll ALD system at CPI is truly world leading and allows clients working with CPI the opportunity to develop, optimise and scale up their ALD materials from the lab, through to proof of concept and then to the volumes needed for commercial market adoption.”