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SUNY Polytechnic Institute and Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology Partner to Advance Semiconductor Research

SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) and Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology announced SUNY Poly’s purchase of a new tool that will enable various types of plasma processing, a process used to engineer material during the computer chip manufacturing process, without the need to change hardware systems. This can lead to more efficient Micro Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) and advanced packaging processes.

The purchase is part of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s New York State Center for Advanced Technology in Nanomaterials and Nanoelectronics (CATN2) program, funded by the NYSTAR division of Empire State Development, which will help advance semiconductor research and development. The research to take place with the use of the tool will be conducted by SUNY Poly Innovation Scientist Dr. Christophe Vallée, who is utilizing equipment owned by SUNY Poly’s industry partners as well as SUNY Poly metrology services to conduct related research.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight said, “New York State is becoming a hub of semiconductor manufacturing, and our strategic investment in industry-university partnerships fuels the R&D that will support our continued leadership in this vital sector. The addition of a plasma processing tool, which will make computer chip manufacturing more efficient, spotlights the important work being done by our NYSTAR Centers for Advanced Technology, and I want to congratulate SUNY Poly and Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology on their innovation and collaboration.”

“We are grateful to Oxford Instruments and eager to add this capability to our repertoire of etch and deposition equipment,” said Dr. Nathaniel Cady, SUNY Poly Interim Vice President of Research and Empire Innovation Professor of Nanobioscience. “This system will enable our SUNY Poly research team and partners to work closely to advance the state-of-the-art in nanoelectronics fabrication and facilitate student research opportunities that highlight why SUNY Poly CNSE is at the forefront of high-tech research and hands-on learning.”

Deployment of the new tool, a FlexAl Plasma ALD tool with an RF biased electrode from Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology, is expected to support innovative computer chip research, development, and workforce training. The tool provides flexible atomic scale processing capability with the additional option of RF biasing of the substrate during the processes. This unique ability will allow the development of innovative processes such as: area selective deposition (ASD) processes, atomic scale smoothing processes, and also the fabrication of ultra-thin closed films at the nanometer scale.

The new tool will further complement the world-class fabrication equipment located at the 1.65 million square foot Albany NanoTech Complex, home to SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, the first college in the world dedicated to research, development, education, and deployment in the emerging disciplines of nanoscience, nanoengineering, and nanobioscience.

“We are delighted that the FlexAl PE-ALD system has been selected to complement the equipment portfolio in one of the world’s most advanced and recognized semiconductor research centers. The FlexAl PE-ALD system offers a unique combination of leading-edge hardware solutions and established processes. As a pioneer in PE-ALD and the first to introduce the RF biased electrode, we have a library of processes ready to go. We are looking forward to partnering with SUNY Poly and supporting their research and next-generation manufacturing solutions,” said Emiel Thijssen, VP Sales and Business Development, Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology, Americas.

“I am thankful for the support from the CATN2 and NYSTAR, as well as our partnership with Oxford Instruments that is allowing my research team to use this tool which will help us to innovate in areas related to plasma deposition and etch processes at the atomic scale, such as plasma enhanced atomic layer deposition (PEALD), atomic layer etching (ALE) and area selective deposition (ASD). The tool will be equipped with in situ diagnostics (optical emission spectroscopy and ellipsometry) that will permit a better understanding of plasma/surface reactions involved in these processes. This tool will also permit the testing of new precursors and new materials for a dedicated device, before implementing them in a 300 mm fab. In addition, the tool will be used to train students on plasma and atomic scale experimental processes, in addition to the fundamental plasma and atomic scale lecture given to SUNY Poly students,” said Dr. Christophe Vallée.

“This investment will build upon the CATN2’s innovative Industry Innovation Scientist Program that established a multi-year partnership to recruit Dr. Vallée and grow his research team composed of graduate students. NYSTAR’s support enables groundbreaking research in emerging semiconductor process technology through co-investment in SUNY Poly’s dynamic open innovation ecosystem,” said Michael Fancher, Director of SUNY Poly’s CATN2.

The investment in the new tool will further SUNY Poly’s strategic plan to upgrade its academic labs, providing unmatched hands-on research opportunities for students and potentially enhancing its position to receive CHIPS Act funding and mutually beneficial support from the semiconductor industry. This purchase is part of an ongoing effort to catalyze research, development, and training in the areas of MEMS and advanced packaging, as well as other areas of research and development in the semiconductor industry, fostering growth of New York State’s innovation economy.


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