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The ALD powerhouse

Picosun’s versatile, reliable, and user-friendly ALD process tools offer unique scalability, covering users’ needs all the way from basic research to fully automated, high-volume industrial production. No wonder then that Picosun has become the leading manufacturer of ALD systems for micro- and nanotechnology applications.

Leading scientific institutes and companies around the world use Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) equipment developed and manufactured by Picosun. The company’s unrivalled expertise has been built up during almost four decades in the field, from the invention of ALD technology itself.

Picosun’s latest reactor design, the PICOSUN™ P-1000 batch ALD reactor for ultrahigh volume manufacturing, represents the company’s sixteenth generation of reactor design.

One of the biggest strengths of PICOSUN™ ALD tools has been the ease with which they can be scaled up from R&D to production, thanks to their use of the same basic construction. This overcomes the problems that are normally encountered when trying to make the leap from promising laboratory results to the production world. These difficulties can sometimes be so big, in fact, that instead of simply slowing down the switch-up, they can make it impossible – but not with Picosun.

Unique scalability

PICOSUN™ R-series ALD tools have been optimised for research, product development, and pilot production, while PICOSUN™ P-series ALD systems offer fast and reliable compact reactors for production purposes.

The new PICOSUN™ P-1000 ALD reactor is designed for batch production with wafers up to 450 mm diameter, and is capable of processing thousands of silicon wafers a day, as well as 3D objects, high-aspect ratio-, particle-, and through-porous samples with industry-leading accuracy.

One of the long-time favourites of Picosun customers, the PICOPLATFORM™ vacuum cluster tool, takes the unique scalability of Picosun products a step further, and enables one and the same system to be used all the way from R&D to production. PICOPLATFORM™ automates cassette-to-cassette loading between carrier cassettes and clustered ALD tools without breaking the vacuum in between. Clustering with other process modules, such as pre-treatment and other deposition systems, is also possible.

The large base of customers using PICOSUN™ ALD tools – and the fact that Picosun works closely with Brooks Automation, the leading provider of vacuum automation solutions to the semiconductor industry – ensures the optimal performance, support, and maintainability of fully automated PICOSUN™ ALD systems.

A key enabling technology

ALD is set to be the key enabling thin film technology in many future micro- and nanotechnology applications thanks to its ability to create extremely high-quality, uniform, conformal, and defect-free thin films on practically any surface. ALD thin films are virtually gap-free and their thickness can be controlled at atomic level and their structure fine-tuned at sub-nanometre level.

The fact that ALD is by far the most reliable atom-scale method of producing thin films makes it ideal in a world where the size of electronics and IT products is shrinking almost exponentially – and it is already being used in producing microprocessors, DRAM chips, optoelectronic read heads, and other electronic components.

The unique, scalable ALD cluster tools offered by PICOPLATFORM™ enable parallel, multifunctional processing to be carried out in a constant vacuum.
> Juhana Kostamo
(Published in HighTech Finland 2013)