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Posts Tagged ‘PV’

Linde Launches Asian R&D Center in Taiwan

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

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By Ed Korczynski, Sr. Technical Editor

Timed in coordination with SEMICON Taiwan 2016 happening in early September, The Linde Group launched a new electronics R&D Center in Taichung, Taiwan. “We had a fabulous opening, with 35 to 40 customers and 20 people from the Taiwanese government such as ITRI,” said Carl Jackson (Fig. 1), Head of Electronics, Technology and Innovation at The Linde Group, in an exclusive interview with SemiMD. This new R&D center represents an investment of approximately EUR 5m to support local customers and development partners throughout the Asia Pacific region with its state-of-the-art analytical and product development laboratory.

FIG1: Carl Jackson, Head of Electronics, Technology and Innovation, LindeGroup. (Source: The Linde Group)

Linde has dozens of labs around the world supporting different industries, all of which work in coordination with three main centers termed ‘hubs’ located in New Jersey, Munich, and Shanghai. This new electronics lab in Taichung will support customers in China, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and of course Taiwan. Working closely with local research partners and customers, the new center will also support development of local supply chains and local special gases manufacturing capabilities. “Customers do prefer a local supply-chain. There are examples in China where they’re even specifying a geographical limit around their fab, and if you’re outside that limit you can’t supply the materials,” said Jackson.

As a major step in collaborating with key regional partners in Taiwan, Linde is also entering into a collaboration agreement with the Industry Technology Research Institute (ITRI) of Taiwan. Jia-Ruey Duann, the vice president of ITRI, stated, “ ITRI values the cooperation on Electronic Specialty Gases (ESG) Production & Analysis with The Linde Group, and we look forward to working together to develop new products and services that benefit Taiwan’s electronics industry.”

Supporting Asia Pacific region

The R&D Center is part of an ongoing expansion and investment in the Asia Pacific region for Linde Electronics. Last year Linde commissioned the world’s largest on-site fluorine plant to supply SK Hynix, in addition to bringing multiple new electronics project on-stream in Asia. This year Linde announced that they have been awarded multiple gas and chemical supply wins for a number of world-leading photovoltaic cell manufacturers in Southeast Asia. “We’re talking about customer-specific applications in specific market segments,” explained Jackson. “They come to us with specific problems and the purpose of this lab is to find solutions.”

While this new lab supports manufacturing customers in LED, FPD, and PV industries, most of the demand for new materials comes from IC fabs. “Semiconductors always drive the materials focus, because it’s rare to find unique demands in the other markets,” said Jackson. “However, the scale can be much larger in the other segments, and that can drive improvements in gases used in semiconductor fabs. An example is ammonia which is used in huge volumes by LED fabs, and similarly when thin-film solar was happening there was huge demand for germane.”

Linde assists customers in realizing continuous technology progress through improvements in the ability to reduce chemical variability in existing products and in the development of new materials that are critical to support customers’ technology roadmaps. “We feel as thought we need to be better positioned to be able to support customers when they require it,” said Jackson. “Quite frankly, some materials don’t travel well. I’m not suggesting that suddenly we’ll start supplying everything locally, but this facility will help us start supplying customers throughout Asia.”

The Linde Electronics R&D Center (Fig. 2) will be used for improvement of product quality through advanced synthesis, purification, packaging and new applications development. These improvements are enabled by Linde’s advanced analytical processes and quality control systems that verify compositions and manage impurities.

FIG2: New electronics R&D center in Taichung, Taiwan will support customers throughout the Asia Pacific region. (Source: The Linde Group)

Analysis and Synthesis

“The way that we have it configured it has two distinct features that work together, but the main focus is on analysis and that’s where the main investment has been made,” explained Jackson. “We think that we probably have the most advanced lab in Asia and perhaps in the world. At least for the materials portfolio that we have we can do ‘finger-printing’ analysis, including all the trace-elements and all the metals, which is to say all the things that can potentially affect process.”

The second feature of this lab is the ability to create experimental quantities of completely new chemical and blends to meet the needs of customers working in advanced device R&D and in pilot-line production. The lab features new purification and new synthesis technologies that work on small quantities of materials. “One capability we have is to do binary- or mixed-component blends,” elaborated Jackson. “In terms of purification, we have a bench-scale set-up with absorbance and distillation, but generally that would be done somewhere else. That’s the advantage of being connected to the global network of labs.”

“There are unique requirements for every fab in every industry,” reminded Jackson. “For example, nitrous-oxide is a key critical-material for OLED manufacturing and you must maintain repeatability in every cylinder, in every truck, and down every pipe. How do you reduce the variability in the molecule regardless of the supply mode? Having the ability to do in-depth analysis certainly gives us a leg up.”

Since sustainability of the supply-chain is always essential, one trend is HVM fabs today is the consideration of recover methods for critical gases such as argon, helium, and neon. “In some cases it works, and particularly as the scale continues to grow. Being able to use the expertise from our Linde Engineering colleagues and scaling it to the right size for semiconductor manufacturing is really important for us.”

—E.K.

Indium-free Perovskite TCOs Could Save Costs

Monday, January 4th, 2016

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By Ed Korczynski, Sr. Technical Editor

Lei Zhang, et al. from Pennsylvania State University—with collaborators from Rutgers University and University of Toledo—have found two new families of transparent conductive oxides (TCO) based on “correlated” electrons in ternary oxides of vanadium. From reported first principles, the co-authors are confident they will find many other correlated materials that behave like strontium vanadate (SrVO3) and calcium vanadate (CaVO3), which could make flat panel displays (FPD) and photovoltaic (PV) modules more affordable.

The correlation relies on strong electron–electron interactions resulting in an enhancement in the carrier effective mass. Both SrVO3 and CaVO3 demonstrate high carrier concentration (>2.2 ×1022 cm−3), and have low screened plasma energies (<1.33 eV). The Figure shows that there is a transparency trade-off in using these new TCOs, since at nominal 10nm thickness they are more than twice as opaque as Indium tin oxide (ITO).

Optical transmission of free standing conductive oxide films at 550nm wavelength, accounting for reflection and interference, and averaged over the range of the visible spectra. (Source: Nature Materials)

ITO has been the dominant TCO used in FPD manufacturing, but the price of indium metal has varied over the range of $100-1000/kg in the last 15 years. Consequently, industry has long searched for a TCO made of less expensive and less variable direct materials. Currently vanadium sells for ~$25/Kg, while strontium is even cheaper. Lei Zhang, lead author of the Nature Materials article (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nmat4493) and a graduate student in assistant professor Roman Engel-Herbert’s group, was the first to recognize the application.

“I came from Silicon Valley where I worked for two years as an engineer before I joined the group,” says Zhang. “I was aware that there were many companies trying hard to optimize those ITO materials and looking for other possible replacements, but they had been studied for many decades and there just wasn’t much room for improvement.” Engel-Herbert and Zhang have applied for a patent on this technology.

The U.S. Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy funded this R&D. “Now, the question is how to implement these new materials into a large-scale manufacturing process,” said Engel-Herbert. “From what we understand right now, there is no reason that strontium vanadate could not replace ITO in the same equipment currently used in industry.”

Electrons flow like a liquid

Correlated oxides are defined as metals in which the electrons flow like a liquid, unlike conventional metals such as copper and gold in  which electrons flow like a gas. “We are trying to make metals transparent by changing the effective mass of their electrons,” Engel-Herbert says. “We are doing this by choosing materials in which the electrostatic interaction between negatively charged electrons is very large compared to their kinetic energy. As a result of this strong electron correlation effect, electrons ‘feel’ each other and behave like a liquid rather than a gas of non-interacting particles. This electron liquid is still highly conductive, but when you shine light on it, it becomes less reflective, thus much more transparent.”

In the November 2007 issue of the prestigious Physical Review B (DOI:  10.1103/PhysRevB.76.205110), F. Rivadulla et al. reported on “VO: A strongly correlated metal close to a Mott-Hubbard transition.” Vanadium oxide (VO) has a rocksalt cubic crystal structure, and displays strongly correlated metallic properties with non-Fermi-liquid thermodynamics and an unusually strong spin-lattice coupling. The structural and electronic simplicity of 3D monoxides provides a basic understanding of highly correlated electron systems, while this new work with 2D ternary oxides is inherently more complex.

One positive aspect of the more complex perovskite structure of SrVO3 and CaVO3 is that it provides for intriguing device integration possibilities with other functional perovskite materials. PV devices based on thin-films of complex perovskites have demonstrated excellent photon-electron conversion efficiencies in labs, but commercial manufacturing has so far been limited by the lack of an inexpensive TCO that can be integrated into a moisture barrier. The templating effect of underlayers could allow for faster deposition of more ideal SrVO3.

—E.K.