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Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Apparatus for Atomic Layer Deposition", for Approval

February 20, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventors Vermeer, Adrianus Johannes Petrus Maria (Delft, NL); De Swart, Joseph Adrianus Maria (Delft, NL); Wit, Robert Coenraad (Deltf, NL), filed on January 30, 2012, was made available online on February 6, 2014.

The patent's assignee is Nederlandse Organisatie Voor Toegepast- Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek Tno.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Atomic layer deposition is known as a method for (repeated) depositing of a monolayer of target material. Atomic layer deposition differs from for example chemical vapour deposition in that atomic layer deposition takes at least two process steps. A first one of these process steps comprises application of a precursor gas on the substrate surface. A second one of these process steps comprises reaction of the precursor material in order to form the monolayer of target material. Atomic layer deposition has the advantage of enabling a good layer thickness control.

"WO2008/085474 discloses an apparatus for deposition of atom layers. The apparatus discloses an air bearing effect so that a substrate hovers above an injector head. For sheeted substrates, such hovering may be an inefficient way to use precursor gas, where a risk of contamination is present and layers may be deposited less accurately.

"US2009/081885 discloses an atomic layer deposition system having a substrate transported via a gas fluid bearing.

"A challenge exists in guidance of the substrate while stabilizing lateral movements of the substrate."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "Accordingly, it is an object, according to an aspect of the invention to provide an apparatus and method for atomic layer deposition with improved use of the precursor gas; wherein the substrate support is provided accurately. According to an aspect, the invention provides an apparatus for atomic layer deposition on a surface of a sheeted substrate, comprising: an injector head comprising a deposition space provided with a precursor supply and a precursor drain; said supply and drain arranged for providing a precursor gas flow from the precursor supply via the deposition space to the precursor drain; the deposition space in use being bounded by the injector head and the substrate surface; a gas bearing comprising a bearing gas injector, arranged for injecting a bearing gas between the injector head and the substrate surface, the bearing gas thus forming a gas-bearing; and a conveying system providing relative movement of the substrate and the injector head along a plane of the substrate to form a conveying plane along which the substrate is conveyed. A support part is arranged opposite the injector head, the support part constructed to provide a gas bearing pressure arrangement that counters the injector head gas-bearing pressure in the conveying plane, so that the substrate is balanced supportless by said gas bearing pressure arrangement in between the injector head and the support part. A conveying system is provided comprising a drive section. The drive section comprises transport elements arranged to provide relative movement of the substrate and the injector head along a plane of the substrate to form a conveying plane along which the substrate is conveyed.

"The deposition space may define a deposition space height D2 relative to a substrate surface. The gas bearing defines, relative to a substrate, a gap distance D1 which is smaller than the deposition space height D2.

"According to another aspect, the invention provides a method for atomic layer deposition on a surface of a substrate using an apparatus including an injector head, the injector head comprising a deposition space provided with a precursor supply and a gas bearing provided with a bearing gas injector, wherein the deposition space defines a deposition space height D2 relative to the substrate surface; and wherein the gas bearing defines, relative to the substrate, a gap distance D1 which is smaller than the deposition space height D2, the method comprising the steps of: supplying a precursor gas from the precursor supply into the deposition space for contacting the substrate surface; injecting a bearing gas between the injector head and the substrate surface, the bearing gas thus forming a gas-bearing; establishing relative motion between the deposition space and the substrate in a plane of the substrate surface; and providing a gas bearing pressure arrangement that counters the injector head gas-bearing pressure in the conveying plane, so that the substrate is balanced supportless by said gas bearing pressure arrangement in between the injector head and the support part. Such a method may, optionally, be carried out by using an apparatus according to the invention.

"By the balanced air bearing support, the sheeted substrate can be controlled to be held in the conveying plane, without mechanically compromising the substrate. In addition, through the use of the air bearings, independent pressure control of the deposition space can be provided, thus enabling freedom of choice for a number of deposition materials and methods.

"Confining the precursor gas to the deposition space enables control of a pressure in the deposition space, for example a precursor gas pressure in the deposition space or a total pressure in the deposition space. Thereto the apparatus may include a deposition space pressure controller. The pressure in the deposition space may be controlled to be independent of, and/or different from, a pressure outside the deposition space. In this way, a predetermined pressure in the deposition space can be set, preferably dedicated to optimizing the atomic-layer deposition process.

"In use of the apparatus, the deposition space is bounded by the substrate surface. It may be clear that in this way the substrate helps confining the precursor gas. Such confining by the substrate may ensure that precursor gas flow through the imaginary plane along the substrate surface is substantially prevented. However, this is not necessary and it is even possible to support substrates that are punctured to a variety of extents, as long as sufficient bearing surface can be provided for providing bearing gas support.

"A combination of relative motion between the deposition space and the substrate in the plane of the substrate surface, and confining the injected precursor gas to the deposition space, further enables a rather efficient use of the precursor gas. In this way, a volume of the precursor gas can be distributed efficiently over the substrate surface, thus enhancing a probability of a precursor gas molecule to attach to the substrate surface after it is injected in the deposition space.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"The invention will now be described, in a non-limiting way, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

"FIG. 1 shows a schematic side view of an embodiment according to the invention

"FIG. 2 shows a schematic side view of an embodiment according to the invention.

"FIG. 3 shows a schematic plan view of another embodiment

"FIG. 4 shows an embodiment of an injector head according to another embodiment of the invention;

"FIG. 5 shows a schematic side view of a fourth embodiment.

"FIG. 6 shows a schematic view of a variant of the fourth embodiment;

"FIG. 7A shows a top view of a first transport element, a second transport element, and a working zone with an injector head;

"FIG. 7B shows a substrate being transported in a lead in zone;

"FIG. 7C shows the substrate being transported through a working zone;

"FIG. 7D shows the substrate at a moment of turning of direction of the substrate in a lead out zone;

"FIG. 7E shows the substrate at a subsequent moment of turning of direction in the lead in zone;

"FIG. 7F shows the substrate being moved away from a second transport element;

"FIG. 8A shows a reception element with a wall part in an opened position;

"FIG. 8B shows a reception element with a wall part in an intermediate position;

"FIG. 8C shows a reception element with a wall part in a closed position.

"FIG. 9A shows a top view of a variant of an apparatus in a fifth embodiment;

"FIG. 9B shows a top view of a variant of the apparatus in the fifth embodiment;

"FIG. 9C shows an alternative embodiment for a centering air bearing

"FIG. 9D shows a schematic top view of the pressure arrangement of FIG. 9C;

"FIG. 9E shows a centering working principle of the centering air bearing arrangement of FIG. 9C; and

"FIG. 10 shows a schematic view of a plurality of apparatuses.

"Unless stated otherwise, the same reference numbers refer to like components throughout the drawings."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Vermeer, Adrianus Johannes Petrus Maria; De Swart, Joseph Adrianus Maria; Wit, Robert Coenraad. Apparatus for Atomic Layer Deposition. Filed January 30, 2012 and posted February 6, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=2943&p=59&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140130.PD.&OS=PD/20140130&RS=PD/20140130

Keywords for this news article include: Nanotechnology, Emerging Technologies, Atomic Layer Deposition, Nederlandse Organisatie Voor Toegepast- Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek Tno.

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Source: Politics & Government Week


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