Improving printed electronics process and device characterization

September 1, 2014 by David Fecko
Improving printed electronics process and device characterization
An optical micrograph (captured on inspection station at Advantech). The defect is visible as a dark feature at the boundaries of two sequentially deposited, i.e. stacked thin film layers. Credit: Advantech US/MCL

Advantech US, Inc. is a Pittsburgh-based technology company that uses a green additive manufacturing shadow mask process to build electronics and fine-line conductors by deposition of vaporized bulk materials – such as metals – onto various rigid and flexible substrates. By building up components layer by layer, Advantech is able to create complex devices with features in the size range of 3–50 micrometers, filling an important size gap between nanoscale lithography and printed circuit board manufacturing, with significant cost benefits, broad design flexibility, simpler processing steps, and reduced material use. Their products include active matrix display backplanes for ePaper and OLED displays.

In Penn State's Nanofabrication Laboratory, etch and deposition lead Guy Lavallee, working with research and development engineer Chad Eichfeld and lithography process engineer Michael Labella, successfully fabricated a prototype mask of silicon etched with the required micrometer-scale features. A second prototype with fine alignment features is being developed.

Advantech's evaporation process can deposit metals, dielectrics, and semiconductors using the miniLineTM, an in-line multi-chamber vacuum deposition system. At times, however, unexpected particle contamination

affects the performance of the deposited micrometer-sized . Vince Bojan and Julie Anderson in the Materials Characterization Laboratory are using the scanning electron microscope and a scanning Auger Electron Spectrometer to identify the chemical elements in the contaminants and thus pinpoint the source of such yield-limiting defects. Together, the two labs are helping a Pennsylvania company expand into the highly competitive microelectronic devices and circuitry market with a simpler, more economical process.

Advantech Senior Scientist Volker Heydemann had this to say about working with MRI: "It's extremely helpful to identify the chemistry of the contaminants on our products. Vince Bojan and Julie Anderson in the Materials Characterization Lab had useful results in just a couple of days. They are real experts in electron microscopy and spectroscopy. The opportunity to apply Nanofab's processing capabilities with MCL's advanced materials characterization techniques and expertise provides insights in our process beyond the capabilities of our in-house suite of test and quality assurance tools. Our project with Penn State helped identify and improve critical steps in our manufacturing process."

Improving printed electronics process and device characterization
A secondary electron image acquired with the AES (Auger) instrument. These images were used to select regions for compositional analysis – one example is the box that shows a sample area for Auger spectroscopy. Credit: Advantech US/MCL

Improving printed electronics process and device characterization
SEM image of defect at higher magnification in the AES instrument used to determine the local elemental composition. Credit: Advantech US/MCL

Explore further: SEMATECH achieves world-class defect reductions in EUV

Related Stories

SEMATECH achieves world-class defect reductions in EUV

August 14, 2012

SEMATECH announced today that researchers have reached a significant milestone in reducing tool-generated defects from multi-layer deposition of mask blanks used for extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL), bringing that technology ...

New light on novel additive manufacturing approach

April 11, 2014

(Phys.org) —For nearly a century, electrophoretic deposition (EPD) has been used as a method of coating material by depositing particles of various substances onto the surfaces of various manufactured items. One of the ...

UH chemical engineer makes device fabrication easier

July 2, 2014

Have you ever wondered how the tiny components and devices inside your cell phone are made? The devices inside your phone and computer, such as integrated circuits, microprocessors and memory chips, are made in a process ...

Recommended for you

Electrical circuit made of gel can repair itself

August 25, 2015

(Phys.org)—Scientists have fabricated a flexible electrical circuit that, when cut into two pieces, can repair itself and fully restore its original conductivity. The circuit is made of a new gel that possesses a combination ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.