Posts Tagged ‘substrates’
Compiled and edited by Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor
Manufacturing flexible electronics and coatings for a variety of products has some similarities to semiconductor manufacturing and some substantial differences, principally roll-to-roll fabrication, as opposed to making chips on silicon wafers and other rigid substrates. This interview is with Neil Morrison, senior manager, Roll-to-Roll Coating Products Division, Applied Materials.
1. What are the leading market trends in roll-to-roll coating systems?
Neil Morrison: Several market trends are driving innovations in roll-to-roll technology and barrier films. One is the flexible electronics market where we see the increasing use of film-based components within displays for portable electronic devices such as smartwatches, smartphones, tablets and laptops.
The majority of these passive applications are for anti-reflection films, optical polarizers and hard coat protected cover glass films.
Examples of active device applications include touch sensors. Roll-to-roll vacuum processing dominates this segment through the use of low-temperature deposited, optically matched layer stacks based on indium tin oxide (ITO). Roll-to-roll deposition of barrier film is also increasing with the emergence of quantum dot-enhanced LCD displays and the utilization of barrier films in organic light-emitting diode (OLED) lighting.
In addition to the electronics industry, roll-to-roll technology is used for food packaging and industrial coatings. What’s new today for food packaging is consumers want to be able to view the freshness of the food inside the packaging. Given this, the use of both aluminum foil and traditional roll-to-roll evaporated aluminum layers is slowly being phased into vacuum-deposited aluminum oxide (AlOx) coated packaging.
Within the industrial coatings market segment, significant growth is being driven by the use of Fabry-Perot color shift systems for “holographic” security applications, such as those used to protect printed currency from counterfeiting. This requires the use of electron-beam evaporation tooling to deposit highly uniform, optical quality dielectric materials sandwiched between two metallic reflector layers.
2. What are the leading technology trends in roll-to-roll coating systems?
Neil Morrison: Roll-to-roll coating is being extended to the display industry through the use of higher optical performance substrates with enhanced transmission, optical clarity and color neutrality. These materials are typically more difficult to handle than traditional polyethylene terephthalate (PET) substrates due to inherent properties and the properties of the primer and/or hard coat layers used to treat or protect their surface.
The majority of displays used in mobile applications are moving to thinner substrates, to reduce the “real estate” within the display and enable thinner form factor products and more space for larger batteries.
At the technology level, roll-to-roll sputter tooling dominates the touch panel industry with continual improvements in substrate handling, pre-treatment and inline process monitoring and control. Roll-to-roll chemical vapor deposition (CVD) equipment has also entered the marketplace to address high barrier requirements and to reduce cost compared with traditional sputter-based solutions. Roll-to-roll CVD technology is still in its infancy but is expected to become more prevalent in the near future within the barrier and hard coat market segments.
In the display industry, defect requirements are becoming more and more stringent and are moving towards metrics previously unseen in the roll-to-roll industry.
3. How would you best and briefly describe the Applied SmartWeb, Applied TopBeam, and Applied TopMet systems?
Neil Morrison: The Applied SmartWeb roll-to-roll modular sputtering or physical vapor deposition tool is used to deposit metals, dielectrics and transparent conductive oxides on polymeric substrates for the touch panel and optical coating industry. Its high-precision substrate conveyance system permits winding of polymeric substrates down to thickness levels of ~23 microns at speeds of up to 20 meters/minute depending upon the application. Up to six process compartments with separate gas flow control and pumping allow the deposition of complex layer stacks within a single pass.
Our Applied TopBeam system is a roll-to-roll e-beam evaporation tool used to deposit dielectrics on substrate thicknesses as low as 12 micron and at speeds up to approximately 10 meters/second. Key to the tool is Applied’s unique electron-beam steering and control system, which provides excellent layer deposition and uniformity at exceptionally high processing speeds by permitting uniform and stable heating of the evaporant material over the entire width of the substrate.
The Applied TopMet is a high-productivity roll-to-roll thermal evaporation platform available for depositing Al and AlOx layers on substrates down to 12 microns in thickness and is used primarily for food and industrial packaging.
4. Who are Applied’s leading competitors in this market?
5. How big is the worldwide market on annual basis?
Neil Morrison: It is difficult to accurately size the entire roll-to-roll market because of the wide variety of applications across multiple industries from flexible electronics to food packaging. Just estimating the size of the market within the flexible electronics category alone is tough because there are three areas that combine to make up the current flexible electronics market – OLEDs for flexible displays, flexible printed circuit boards, and flexible touch panels for phones and tablets. And with applications continuing to grow, it is difficult to provide a specific market size.
Worldwide sales of semiconductors reached $27.06 billion for the month of October 2013, a 7.2 percent increase from the same month last year when sales were $25.24 billion, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc. The top 25 semiconductor vendors’ combined revenue increased 6.2 percent, a significantly better performance than the rest of the market, whose revenue growth was 2.9 percent. This was, in part, due to the concentration of memory vendors, which saw significant growth in the top ranking.
Soitec, a manufacturer semiconductor materials for the electronics and energy industries, this week announced it has reached high-volume manufacturing of its new Enhanced Signal Integrity (eSI) substrates. Soitec’s eSI products, based on Smart Cut technology, are the first “trap-rich” type of material in full production. These substrates, on which devices are manufactured, have a significant impact on the final devices’ performance. Soitec’s eSI substrates are designed by introducing an innovative material (a trap-rich layer) between the high-resistivity handle wafer and the buried oxide. This layer limits the parasitic surface conduction present in standard high-resistivity silicon-on-insulator (HR-SOI) substrates, boosting the performance of RF devices. Because this layer is built into the substrate, it reduces the number of process steps and relaxes design rules, leading to a lower cost process and possibly a smaller die area per function.
SEMI projects that worldwide sales of new semiconductor manufacturing equipment will contract 13.3 percent to $32.0 billion in 2013, according to the SEMI Year-end Forecast, released this week at the annual SEMICON Japan exposition. In 2014, all regions except Rest of World are expected to have strong positive growth, resulting in a global increase of 23.2 percent in sales. 2015 sales are expected to continue to grow — increasing 2.4 percent with Japan, Europe, Korea, China, and Rest of World regions registering positive growth.
Micron Technology, Inc. announced that the company has named Rajan Rajgopal, vice president of Quality. Rajgopal will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of Micron’s quality systems including manufacturing, customer program management and product ramps. He brings more than 25 years of experience to Micron and most recently served as the vice president of Global Quality and Customer Enablement for GLOBALFOUNDRIES in Singapore.
SEMI’s World Fab Forecast report, published in November, predicts that fab equipment spending will decline about -9 percent (to US$32.5 billion) in 2013 (including new, used and in-house manufactured equipment). Setting aside the used 300mm equipment GlobalFoundries acquired from Promos at the beginning of 2013 (NT$20-30 billion), fab equipment spending sinks further, to -11 percent in 2013. The previous World Fab Forecast in August predicted an annual decline of just -1 percent (-3 percent without the used Promos 300mm equipment).
Worldwide sales of semiconductors reached $27.06 billion for the month of October 2013, a 7.2 percent increase from the same month last year when sales were $25.24 billion, and 0.8 percent higher than last month’s total, according to The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). “With eight straight months of growth and a new monthly sales record in October, the global semiconductor industry is on track to exceed $300 billion in annual sales for the first time ever in 2013,” said Brian Toohey, president and CEO, Semiconductor Industry Association. “The industry is projected to maintain solid growth for the remainder of 2013 and into 2014, led largely by the Americas, which has remained well ahead of last year’s pace. Congress and the Administration can help maintain and strengthen growth by resolving fiscal uncertainty and investing in scientific research.”
The increasing demand for wireless data bandwidth and the emergence of LTE and LTE Advanced standards pushes radio-frequency (RF) IC designers to develop devices with higher levels of integrated RF functions, meeting more and more stringent specification levels. The substrates on which those devices are manufactured play a major role in achieving that level of performance.
Everybody’s talking about it, but just what is DFM? According to various EDA company websites, design for manufacturing can be: generation of yield optimized cells; layout compaction; wafer mapping optimization; planarity fill; or, statistical timing among other definitions. Obviously, there is very little consensus. For me, DFM is what makes my job hard: Characterizing it, and developing tools for it, is the most important item on my agenda.
In nanometer designs, the number of single vias, and the number of via transitions with minimal overlap, can contribute significantly to yield loss. Yet doubling every via leads to other yield-related problems and has a huge impact on design size. While there is still concern over of how many vias can be fixed without rerouting and without creating DRC violations, the Calibre via doubling tool can identify via transitions and recommend areas for second via insertion without increasing area.
Certain measurement methodologies can be inaccurate even if they’re precise, and there are known errors associated with certain system parameters.
The etch loading effect is the dominant factor that impacts final CD control at advanced nodes with shrinking critical dimension.
A look at ways to simplify the optical and resist model calibration and to speed up the entire process.
Fabricating interconnects is one of the most process-intensive and cost-sensitive parts of manufacturing.
Testing interposer-based versions of stacked die and future versions using through-silicon vias.