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ALD - Enabling the Future Picosun News, Winter 2014

In this issue: • • • • •

New Board and a significant capital investment for Picosun Shine and surface protection for coins and watches with Picosun ALD Picosun ALD enables a new generation of medical devices Novel PICOSUN™ P-200 batch ALD tool breaks into industrial production of MEMS and LEDs Customer interviews: o Prof. Shayla Sawyer and Mr. Bryant Colwill, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, USA o Dr. Andy Zauner, Researcher, Air Liquide R&D Centre, Paris-Saclay, France

In September 2013, Picosun moved into a new era with a significant investment of 5.4 million euros from a group of well-known Finnish long-term entrepreneurs and capital investors. The main investors were Mr. Hannu Turunen and Mr. Ilkka Hiidenheimo (Hiidenkivi Investment Oy), and a major contribution was also made by a 130 years old Jyväskylä-based family company R.Ruth Oy. Mr. Turunen and Mr. Hiidenheimo both have extensive, diverse backgrounds and are prominent in the Finnish business scene. For example, they have founded the successful network security company Stonesoft Oyj. R.Ruth Oy, on the other hand, is steered by Picosun’s long-term Board Member, Professor Jorma Routti. In addition to being the Chairman of the Board of R.Ruth Oy, Professor Routti has held several notable positions of responsibility and authority in both Finnish and international organizations, e.g. Secretary General of The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, Manager of Knowledge for the Economy project at the World Bank, and Director-General for Research at the European Commission from 1995 to 2000. The now received capital investment is a significant milestone on Picosun’s journey towards the realization of our company’s ambitious goals. This investment will provide the impetus for enabling new developments. These include new recruitments to ensure Picosun’s continued commitment to quality customer service and

support, expansion of the company’s production facilities for the efficient completion of customer projects, and the facilitation of the shift of business priority towards increasingly larger industrial high volume production ALD systems. This growing shift comes on the wake of the already hugely successful PICOSUN™ P-series batch production tools and high-throughput multifunctional Picoplatform™ ALD clusters. In addition to monetary investments, the entrance of experienced, successful, and creative entrepreneurial minds to the Picosun team will be an enormous asset to the company’s human capital. Along with the entry of new investors, a new Picosun Board of Directors was also elected in November. Mr. Kustaa Poutiainen will continue as the Chairman of the Board, and Dr. Tuomo Suntola, the inventor of the ALD method, and Professor Jorma Routti as Board Members. The two new Board Members are Mr. Hannu Turunen and Mr. Jukka Jäämaa. Mr. Jäämaa has long, wide-ranging industrial background also – prior to his current position as the Head of Global Operations of Philips Lighting, he has worked in leading positions at Elcoteq, Perlos, and Moventas. Picosun’s finance department too will start the year 2014 with a new head, when Mr. Mikael Nyberg, also of Stonesoft background, will start his work as the company’s Chief Financial Officer.

The two new Members of the Picosun Board of Directors. Mr. Hannu Turunen on the left and Mr. Jukka Jäämaa on the right.


The coin and watch industries are prime examples of the “traditional” technology branches that have recently discovered the huge added value that ALD can offer to their products. This is representative of ALD’s unmatched versatility and the current trend of the technology’s infiltration into completely new products and industries. As everyday use items, circulation coins are constantly subjected to conditions that produce wear – abrasion and impacts from storage and transport, sweat and dirt from handling, moisture and pollution from ambient atmosphere. In the long run, this causes oxidation, corrosion, darkening and other color changes on the coin metal. Collector coins, on the other hand, are typically stored in special showcases and boxes and not handled at all on everyday basis – and, when handled, with gloves and extreme care. Both coin types can benefit substantially from ALD.

that advocate ALD’s use over other methods are again mostly the same as in coin coating: uniform, conformal, and structurally high integrity films with 100% even color tone in distinguished, metallic hues. Naturally, also the protective function against corrosion, tarnishing, and wear is also achieved with the ALD coating, along with the color tuning capability. In ALD there is the further advantage that the desired result is achieved with much thinner films than with other coating methods, which leads to overall material savings.

As 100% conformal, uniform, pinhole-, crack-, and defect-free, an ALD film covers the coin surface evenly down to the microstructural level, thus effectively isolating it from moisture, dirt, sweat, and ambient air. Depending on the film material and thickness, the film can be transparent or colored – in the coin application transparent films are typically desired because they do not alter the original appearance of the coins. This is already an improvement to existing protection methods, e.g. lacquering, which can induce yellowish hue or rippling effects on the coin surface. If desired, the ALD coating can also be tailored so that it enhances the coins’ natural luster. Due to the characteristics of the ALD film formation process – chemisorption reactions of gaseous precursors on the substrate surface – the method is very gentle to the processed objects. This is further enhanced by the possibility of low processing temperatures and precursors that are harmless even to the most sensitive materials. The materials and compositions of the ALD films used for coin protection depend on the coin type. For numismatic collector coins which are not subjected to harsh handling, often a very thin single oxide layer is strong enough. For circulation coins that need more robust protection, sufficient resistance can be achieved with a carefully tailored nanolaminate structure of a few different oxide materials. Contrary to what is found for minting applications, the wristwatch and timepiece industry finds the capability of ALD to produce colors highly desirable. The factors


Wristwatch parts coated with ALD film. Photos credit He-Arc.


In high end luxury articles, such as designer watches and jewelry, the additional cost from the ALD processing step is negligible compared to the total cost, however medium- and low-price items can also be coated with fast and cost-efficient processing in large batch ALD tools. Using such means, the cost of the ALD treatment can be minimized so as to not become economically unfeasible for the end-user market of these lower value items. In PICOSUN™ P-300B batch ALD reactor, at least 1000 watch dials or 3000 coins can be processed in one run.


The photographs below illustrate batches of circulation coins being loaded into the P-300B reactor for protective ALD coating. Picosun has several customers in the minting and watch industries around the globe. The most recent European key customer is Austrian Mint, who uses Picosun’s ALD technology for industrial scale protective coating of coins.

Picosun’s new EU-project launched in autumn 2013 takes ALD to additional groundbreaking application areas, e.g. in next generation medical devices. The project entitled PICS – “Development of innovative ALD materials and tools for high density 3D integrated capacitors” – aims at fast, cost-efficient mass production of new generation high voltage density capacitors. This objective reflects the general trend in the development of electronic modules, i.e. constantly decreasing component size and at the same time, requirements for higher and higher integration level, performance, and reliability. A typical example of the end-user products for these components are implantable medical devices such as pacemakers, hearing aids, and eyesight improving implants. High voltage density capacitors that can store and manage large quantities of energy have potential use also in areas including electric car applications and the realization of more efficient computer and mobile device memories.

The long-time highly successful PICOSUN™ P-300 batch ALD tool and the more recently introduced PICOSUN™ P-1000 industrial scale production ALD tools have been joined by the new PICOSUN™ P-200 batch ALD reactor starting in autumn 2013. Where the P-300 system is designed for wafers up to 300 mm diameter and the P-1000 tool for maximum 450 mm wafer size, the P-200 ALD tool is optimized for smaller, 150 mm or 200 mm wafer diameter in batches of 25 wafers, thus complementing the range of industrial batch tools Picosun has to offer.


Advanced ALD structures are a central part of the novel 3D capacitors developed by IPDiA (Caen, France) in the PICS project. As the leading provider of world-class batch ALD technology, Picosun delivers both the ALD tools and processes for the project, thus consolidating its position as the leading equipment supplier for the future 3D capacitor market. In PICS, Picosun works in close collaboration with Fraunhofer CNT (Dresden, Germany), whose researchers use PICOSUN™ batch ALD tool in implementing the proven ALD processes into fast, cost-efficient high throughput manufacturing of the new generation high energy density capacitors. The PICS project started in September 2013 and it ends in August 2015. The project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program managed by REA-Research Executive Agency (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° FP7-SME-2013-2-606149.

This fast batch ALD tool is targeted especially at the LED, MEMS, and power electronics industries, all of which are rapidly growing ALD application areas and are amongst Picosun’s main market segments. Indeed, the PICOSUN™ P-200 ALD tool has already been selected by four frontline MEMS and LED manufacturers .

The P-200 ALD system combines world-class processing quality and speed with an unmatched number of automation options. The tool can be operated with an industrial robot, vacuum robot or vacuum load lock, it can be equipped with a linear inline loader or connected to a glove box or mini cleanroom. The P-200 tool’s compact, factory floor space saving design, robust configuration, easy operation, and quick maintenance enable smooth production with low cost-of-ownership

PICOSUN™ P-200 batch ALD reactor technical features Basic features Substrate size and type

50 – 200 mm wafers in batch of 25 pcs

Process temperature

50 – 500 °C

Substrate loading options

Pneumatic lift for manual loading Load lock with magnetic manipulator arm Semi-automatic loading with handling robot Cassette-to-cassette loading with cluster tools Optional loading from SMIF-PODs


Liquid, solid, gas, ozone Up to 6 sources with 4 separate inlets


PLC control with PC user interface (GEM/SECS optional)

Measures Weight Dimensions (W x H x D)

350 kg (depending on loader options) Depending on options Minimum 146 cm x 146 cm x 84 cm Maximum 189 cm x 206 cm x 111 cm

Utilities Power supply

200 or 400 VAC, 3-phase, 50/60 Hz Fuse 3 x 16 Amps Power depending on options

Vacuum pump

Recommendation min. 420 m3/h, mechanical particle trap and afterburner included

Carrier gas

99.999 % N2 / Ar, min 2 slm

Compressed dry air

4 – 5.5 bar overpressure

Cooling water

Only required for dry vacuum pump and ozone generator, not for the reactor


Vacuum pump, source cabinets

Options PICOFLOW™ diffusion enhancer, QCM, RGA, N2 generator, gas scrubber, glove box compatibility for inert loading


Some of the loader options:

Vacuum cluster.

Glove box integration. Perfect for e.g. OLEDs!

Inline loader.

Vacuum load lock.


Dr. Shayla Sawyer is an Associate Professor in the Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her research includes the development of optoelectronic sensors and systems primarily in the blue/ultraviolet wavelength range. The optoelectronic sensors are comprised of hybrid inorganic/organic materials that may include semiconductor metal oxide nanostructures, conductive polymers, conductive nanostructures, and biochemical solutions. Applications include sensitive ultraviolet detectors, environmental monitoring, radiation detection, chemical sensing, and energy harvesting for various cross-disciplinary interests. Her overall research goal is aimed at effectively developing and characterizing novel sensors with consideration of systems that require sensitivity and/or selectivity to bring quantitative measurements in typically qualitative worlds. Dr. Sawyer obtained her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. As a graduate student, she received the competitive Department of Homeland Security Fellowship. She completed her undergraduate studies with an electrical engineering degree from Hampton University as a Merit Scholar, Honors College member, and two-time MEAC champion basketball player. Mr. Bryant Colwill has held the position of design and process engineer in Rensselaer’s Micro and Nanofabrication Clean Room (MNCR) for the past six years. Over that time, he has provided guidance to students, faculty, and industrial users of the cleanroom to leverage and align the lab’s capabilities with their research goals.


Mr. Colwill began his professional career by joining IBM’s research and development group studying low power memory devices for the wireless industry. In 2002, he moved into IBM’s microelectronics division helping to bring their first 300 mm semiconductor wafer fab on-line. Over the next six years, he worked as a process integration and yield engineer driving productivity improvements and installing next generation technology nodes into manufacturing. Mr. Colwill is a Rensselaer alumnus; receiving his chemical engineering degree in 2000. He holds five US patents in the microelectronics field and has co-authored several published technical articles. Prof. Sawyer and Mr. Colwill, what are the focus points and goals of your current work in your institution? SS: The overall goal of our research is to develop a new generation of sensors and sensor technologies using variations of nanocomposite materials. We intend to expand the fundamental understanding, engineering processes, and potential applications of hybrid inorganic/ organic materials for optoelectronic devices and sensors. As unique properties of material combinations are discovered, their effects create unprecedented responses

to light or other surrounding media. Integration of these materials in optical and electronic devices contributes to converting these responses to electrical signals; a necessary development for innovation in an increasingly interconnected digital world. Our research group contributes to bridging the gap between novel hybrid materials and their use in new sensor systems that can shift paradigms of how, where, and when hazards (biological, environmental, chemical, or nuclear) can be detected.

What are the benefits of PICOSUN™ products compared to other manufacturers’ products?

How did you get interested in Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD)?

For what kind of purposes is PICOSUN™ ALD system used in your institution?

SS: The atomic layer deposition technique can achieve uniform coatings on extremely complex shapes with a conformal material layer of high quality, as compared with pulsed laser deposition (PLD), magnetron sputtering, thermal spray, and chemical vapor deposition (CVD). For example, ALD is the most suitable method to coat carbon nanotube paper, which is a highly complex surface with high aspect ratios, with a thin layer of zinc oxide. Such a structure may have promising applications in photocatalysis, gas sensing, and photodetectors. What would you see as the key advantages of ALD compared to other thin film deposition methods? BC: The conformality of the film is unparalleled in comparison to other deposition techniques available. Having the capability of coating high aspect ratio features, as well as some recursive geometries, unlocks a lot of potential. Additionally, the thickness control that can be achieved by the very nature of the self-limiting reaction is ideal. How did you learn to know about Picosun? BC: We were introduced to Picosun through Labtec Sales Partners; Picosun’s sales representative in the US. What made you select PICOSUN™ ALD system? BC: There were several features of the system that stood out during our evaluation. We thought the dual chamber, hot wall design would help minimize defect entrainment and reduce the frequency of having to take the tool offline to clean inner chamber components. We also appreciated the optional capability of installing a load lock on the tool in the field if we found our research required it at a later date.


BC: The combination of available vapor based precursor lines coupled with several plasma gas choices yielded us a system unmatched in terms of flexibility at our price point. Additionally, the fact that Picosun has been involved in the ALD industry since its infancy speaks volumes about their technical expertise and the learning curve that’s gone into designing the tool.

SS and BC: Our system is in use over a diversified research portfolio. It includes utilization for transparent conductive oxides as related to renewable energy research, and sensing applications including chemical and visible blind UV light. We also have researchers exploring applications such as gate dielectrics in high power device electronics. What do you regard being the most positive aspects of PICOSUN™ ALD systems? SS: The novelty of our research depends on the ability of effectively coupling materials together with control and uniformity. Thus far, this system has greatly influenced the options we have and, therefore, increased research ideas and results in a relatively short amount of time. What kind of impression have you gotten about our company, products and services in general? BC: To date, our interactions with all the Picosun staff have been great. We had several technical exchanges during the design and build of our tool to make sure our installation and facilitation went extremely smoothly. Process support to populate the tool’s baseline recipe inventory was also extremely helpful and allowed our researchers to “hit the ground running”. To whom would you recommend PICOSUN™ ALD systems? BC: I would recommend the PICOSUN™ R-series platform to any academic or national laboratory looking to do thin film research. Operationally, the system is both flexible and robust enough to meet the demands of a highly technical, multiple user facility.

Dr. Andy Zauner works as a researcher at Air Liquide’s R&D centre in Paris-Saclay, France. He received his Ph.D. degree at the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, working on metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) of III-nitrides. Before joining Philips Semiconductors (that later became NXP Semiconductors), Dr. Zauner spent two years in metallurgy research. Within Philips he was for the first time in touch with ALD, which was used as a deposition technique for embeddedDRAM capacitors, as well as for high-k gate oxides. In 2007 he joined Air Liquide’s research facility, close to Paris, involved in the development of new CVD and ALD precursors. Dr. Zauner, what are the focus points and goals of your current work in your institution? With its 1,000 employees of 35 different nationalities, spread over its eight main centers in Asia, Europe, and the USA, Research & Development at Air Liquide creates sustainable value for the Group and its customers by exploring new technological territories to address the challenges facing the Group and the society. The challenge of my research group is to improve solar cell efficiency. Developing and engineering functional thin film material solutions are essential in order to achieve and improve solar cell performance. Different deposition methods, including ALD, are used to deposit those thin films used as optical coatings, surface passivation layers for frontside and rearside, bulk passivation layers, capping layers, and other performance enhancing functional layers. How did you get interested in Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD)? I believe it was early 2004 at Philips when I got involved in embedded-DRAM development, which used a metal nitride and aluminum oxide (Al2O3) in the metal-insulator-metal (MIM) structure. Both the nitride and the Al2O3 layers were deposited by ALD and the results we obtained with the ALD films were amazingly good. After Al2O3 other dielectrics, such as hafnium oxide (HfO2), with higher permittivity constants, were investigated. Within Air Liquide the ALD aspect of my research was much more intensified, being more involved in the precursor aspect of ALD, from designing new molecules up to their evaluation in one of our home-build ALD reactors. We looked at numerous new compounds, some of which have become mainstream precursors in the semiconductor industry, which is to some extent quite exciting! What would you see as the key advantages of ALD compared to other thin film deposition methods? ALD’s excellent conformality over very complex structures makes it pretty much unique. It is also a very con-


venient method for new film development, in particular when depositing multi-component films. How did you learn to know about Picosun? It was in one of the conferences, or should I better say the accompanying exhibition, which I assisted. I remember that Dr. Suntola was present at Picosun’s booth. What made you select PICOSUN™ ALD system? We were looking for a very versatile ALD tool that can basically do everything, from single wafer processing to mini-batch, with thermal and plasma-assisted ALD. A tool that has sufficient amount of separate inlet lines that allows processing of small wafers or wafer pieces up to square 156 mm x 156 mm photovoltaic wafers that we are using in our pilot line. What are the benefits of PICOSUN™ products compared to other manufacturers’ products? Our PICOSUN™ ALD tool gives us a large flexibility in our research. I particularly appreciate the number of precursors we can evaluate, having separated inlet lines up to the reactor chamber. For what kind of purposes is PICOSUN™ ALD system used in your institution? We are looking to enhance the performance of silicon solar cells and our PICOSUN™ ALD system is used to evaluate different layers that can do this. We are currently looking into the improvement of the surface passivation behavior. What do you regard being the most positive aspects of PICOSUN™ ALD systems? It is a very versatile tool, but nevertheless very easy to work with. What kind of impression have you gotten about our company, products and services in general? We have had your R-series ALD tool for nearly one year now, and it is working well. I am very positive with the support we get from PICOSUN. To whom would you recommend PICOSUN™ ALD systems? I would recommend your R-series tool to anyone who likes to do research in ALD. The tool can be customized to your research needs (wafer sizes, precursor lines, gas lines, plasma-enhanced ALD, load lock etc) making it a very versatile and flexible tool.

Main Headquarters: Picosun Oy, Tietotie 3, FI-02150 Espoo, Finland Tel: +358 50 321 1955 Email: Web:

North American Headquarters: Picosun USA, LLC, 719 Griswold Street, Suite 820 Detroit, Michigan 48226, USA Tel: +1 313 967 7854 Email:

Production Facilities: Picosun Oy, Masalantie 365, FI-02430 Masala, Finland

Asian Headquarters: Picosun Asia Pte. Ltd., 1 North Bridge Road, #12-01 High Street Centre Singapore 179094, Singapore Tel: +65 9682 7936 Email:

Regional sales and support: See for details of regional sales offices.

Picosun News, Winter 2014  

Picosun biannual newsletter, winter 2014 issue.