Minimally Intrusive Thin-Film Electrical Insulation on Conductive Surfaces
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April 2017 Newsletter

Minimally Intrusive Thin-Film Electrical Insulation on Conductive Surfaces

Minimally Intrusive Thin-Film Electrical Insulation on Conductive Surfaces


From NASA Tech Briefs, January 2017: “Fabricating metal-based sensors directly onto metal components requires the use of an electrically insulating layer between the component and the sensor. Flame-sprayed insulators provide good insulating capability, but the thickness of the coatings lessens the advantage of the thin-film sensor. Thus, a much thinner electrical insulating layer (barrier) is highly desirable. The requirements for such an electrical insulator are driven by the environments of aerospace applications, which currently require insulation of 100 kΩ or better to 1100 °C in oxidizing conditions. The major technical challenge in multilayered electrical insulating films is the optimization of the fabrication process with respect to material composition to achieve a reliable, high-temperature insulating film. A method of insulation was needed for large stainless steel components using minimal surface preparation and a single magnetron sputtering source. A thin-film multilayer insulation of Al2O3/SiC/Al2O3 was demonstrated to provide the necessary electrical insulation for thin-film sensors.”


Source:
NASA Tech Briefs 
Image: John H. Glenn Research Center


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Thin, Flexible, Light-Absorbent Material Could Be Used in Energy and Stealth Applications

Thin, Flexible, Light-Absorbent Material Could Be Used in Energy and Stealth Applications


From University of California (UC), San Diego, February 1, 2017: “A research team at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering has created a broadband absorber that’s thin, flexible and tunable. The material, called a near-perfect broadband absorber, absorbs more than 87 percent of near-infrared light (1200 to 2200 nanometer wavelengths), with 98 percent absorption at 1550 nanometers, the wavelength for fiber optic communication. The material is capable of absorbing light from every angle. The materials were deposited one atomic layer at a time on a silicon substrate to create an array of standing nanotubes, each made of alternating concentric rings of zinc oxide and aluminum-doped zinc oxide. Conductive aluminum-doped zinc oxide has enough free electrons it give it plasmonic properties in the infrared. The tubes are 1730 nanometers tall, 650 to 770 nanometers in diameter, and spaced less than a hundred nanometers apart. The nanotube array was then transferred from the silicon substrate to a thin, elastic polymer. The result is a material that is thin, flexible and transparent in the visible.” They were manufactured at the advanced nanofabrication technologies in the Nano3 cleanroom facility at the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego."


Source: University of California, San Diego
Image: University of California, San Diego


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Nanotube Growth Moving in the Right Direction

Nanotube Growth Moving in the Right Direction


From Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, February 9, 2017: “For the first time, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and collaborators have captured a movie of how large populations of carbon nanotubes grow and align themselves. The researchers leveraged a state-of-the-art kilohertz camera in an aberration-correction environmental transmission electron microscope (ETEM) at Brookhaven National Laboratory to capture the inherently rapid processes that govern the growth of these exciting nanostructures. The video demonstrated direct visualization of collective nucleation and self-organization of aligned carbon nanotube films. Among other phenomena discovered, the researchers are the first to provide direct proof of how mechanical competition among neighboring carbon nanotubes can simultaneously promote self-alignment while also frustrating and limiting growth.”


Source: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory 
Image: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


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Graphene Alignment Technique Holds Promise for Nanophotonics

Graphene Alignment Technique Holds Promise for Nanophotonics


From Photonics Spectra, February 2017 by Jiming Bao and Feng Lin, University of Houston and Jonathan Hu, Baylor University: “The orientational control and assembly of nanomaterials is an integral part of nanotechnology that has led to recent research on the structured assembly of nanowires and nanotubes. The alignment of graphene and related device applications has also been reported recently by several groups, but it was achieved by using either shear stress or magnetic nanoparticles. The alignment of graphene by magnetic field has been theoretically studied, but a large magnetic field of 9 Tesla was required."


Source: Photonics Spectra
Image: University of Houston/Jiming Bao


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Living Sensors at Your Fingertips

Living Sensors at Your Fingertips


From MIT News, February 15, 2017 by Jennifer Chu: “Engineers and biologists at MIT’s Soft Active Materials Laboratory and Synthetic Biology Group have teamed up to design a new “living material” — a tough, stretchy, biocompatible sheet of hydrogel injected with live cells that are genetically programmed to light up in the presence of certain chemicals. The team fabricated various wearable sensors from the cell-infused hydrogel, including a rubber glove with fingertips that glow after touching a chemically contaminated surface, and bandages that light up when pressed against chemicals on a person’s skin. The group’s living material design may be adapted to sense other chemicals and contaminants, for uses ranging from crime scene investigation and forensic science, to pollution monitoring and medical diagnostics.”


Source: MIT
Image: MIT


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Confronting the Looming Hexavalent Chromium Ban

Confronting the Looming Hexavalent Chromium Ban


From Chemical and Engineering News, February 27, 2017 by Marc S. Reisch: “Bans on the aerospace industry’s main weapon against corrosion, compounds based on hexavalent chromium, is looming in Europe. Treatment formulators and paint makers are scrambling to find effective substitutes, but executives say the effort is a challenge. Under Europe’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization & Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulations, corrosion-resisting paint additives, such as strontium chromate, have a sunset date in January 2019. Industry groups have applied to the European Chemicals Agency for extensions to use hexavalent compounds for critical applications beyond their sunset dates; the agency has approved Cr(VI) plating treatments for aerospace use through 2024 and some Cr(VI) additives for aerospace paints through 2026. But the agency’s decision must be approved by the European Commission, and that hasn’t happened yet. PPG, Coventya, Luster-On and other players in aerospace coatings sector know they have their work cut out for them.”


Source: Chemical and Engineering News
Image: European Commission


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Picosun and Hitachi MECRALD Process

Picosun and Hitachi MECRALD Process


From Semiconductor Manufacturing & Design, February 24, 2017, by Ed Korczynski, Sr.: “A new microwave electron cyclotron resonance (MECR) atomic layer deposition (ALD) process technology has been co-developed by Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation and Picosun Oy to provide commercial semiconductor IC fabs with the ability to form dielectric films at lower temperatures. Silicon oxide and silicon nitride, aluminum oxide and aluminum nitride films have been deposited in the temperature range of 150-200 ºC in the new 300-mm single-wafer plasma-enhanced ALD (PEALD) processing chamber. The development team claims that MECRALD films are superior to other PEALD films in terms of higher density, lower contamination of carbon and oxygen (in non-oxides), and also show excellent step-coverage as would be expected from a surface-driven ALD process. The relatively density of these films has been confirmed by lower wet etch rates. The single-wafer process non-uniformity on 300 mm wafers is claimed at ~1% (1 sigma).”


Source: Semiconductor Manufacturing & Design
Image: Picosun


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Buckle Up for Record Spending in 2017 and 2018

Buckle Up for Record Spending in 2017 and 2018


From SEMI, March 7, 2017 by Christian G. Dieseldorff: “Fab equipment spending is expected to reach an industry all-time record, to more than $46 billion US in 2017, according to the latest version of the SEMI World Fab Forecast. The record is expected to be broken again in 2018, nearing the $50 billion US mark. These record-busting years are part of three consecutive years of growth (2016, 2017 and 2018), which has not occurred since the mid-1990s.


China is forecasted to run third for regional spending in 2017. Many of the new fab projects are in the construction phase. China is busy constructing 14 new fabs in 2017 and these new fabs will be equipping in 2018. Other regions also show solid growth rates. Europe/Mideast and Korea are expected to make the largest leaps in terms of growth rates this year with 47% growth and 45% growth, respectively, year-over-year (YoY). Japan will increase spending by 28%, followed by the Americas with 21% YoY growth.”


Source: SEMI
Image: SEMI


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Smart Threads for In Vitro and In Vivo Diagnostics

Smart Threads for In Vitro and In Vivo Diagnostics


SPIE Newsroom (DOI: 10.1117/2.1201610.006709), February 13, 2017 by Pooria Mostafalu and Sameer R. Sonkusale: “Researchers from Harvard-MIT and Tufts University have proposed flexible and biocompatible threads—with embedded sensors, actuators, and electronics—to address the challenges associated with wearable and implantable devices. Their integration of several functional components into the threads means that they can penetrate (as the threads are sutured and woven through) multiple layers of tissue in a 3D topology. In particular, they have fabricated a suite of physical and chemical sensors from nanomaterial-infused conductive threads. These can be integrated with microfluidic networks, i.e., for direct integration with tissues and for monitoring of physiochemical tissue properties. Researchers have also used thread-based flexible interconnects to connect the sensors to electronic circuitry, i.e., for readout, signal conditioning, and wireless transmission.”


Source: SPIE
Image: SPIE


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Nanocubes Simplify Printing and Imaging in Color and Infrared

Nanocubes Simplify Printing and Imaging in Color and Infrared


From Duke University, December 14, 2016 by Ken Kingery: “A team of Duke University engineers reveals a manufacturing technique that promises to bring a simplified form of multispectral imaging into daily use. Because the process uses existing materials and fabrication techniques that are inexpensive and easily scalable, it could revolutionize any industry where multispectral imaging or printing is used.The new technology relies on plasmonics. Engineers fashion silver cubes just 100 nm wide and place them only a few nanometers above a thin gold foil. When incoming light strikes the surface of a nanocube, it excites the silver’s electron, trapping the light’s energy – but only at a certain frequency. The size of the silver nanocubes and their distance from the base layer of gold determines that frequency, while controlling the spacing between the nanoparticles allows tuning the strength of the absorption. By precisely tailoring these spacings, researchers can make the system respond to any specific color they want, all the way from visible wavelengths out to the infrared.”


Source: Duke University
Image: Duke University


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Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cell with 21.9 Percent Efficiency

Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cell with 21.9% Efficiency


From Fraunhofer ISE, February 20, 2017: “Researchers at Fraunhofer ISE have produced a multicrystalline silicon solar cell with 21.9% efficiency. This record solar cell consists of n-type high performance multicrystalline silicon, or HP mc-Si. The cell has excellent antireflection properties; therefore the cell appears almost black with almost no detectable grain boundaries. Compared to p-type silicon, this material shows a higher tolerance to impurities, especially iron."


Source: Fraunhofer ISE
Image: Fraunhofer ISE


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2-D Semiconductors from Printed Oxide Skin of Liquid Metals

2-D Semiconductors from Printed Oxide Skin of Liquid Metals


From Nature Communications (doi:10.1038/ncomms14482), February 17, 2017 by Benjamin J. Carey, et al.: ”Researchers from RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, have developed a printing method that allows the selective patterning of atomically thin semiconducting layers of 2-D post transition metal chalcogenides (PTMCs). The process relies on the efficient transformation of an ultra-thin oxide layer on the surface of liquid elemental gallium onto an oxide-coated substrate. Low temperature sulfurization leads to the formation of highly uniformly distributed semiconducting GaS bilayer of ~1.5 nm thickness. There are several advantages of this method including relative simplicity and low temperature, cost effectiveness and scalability of the process. This method is compatible with well-established industry processes, and offers etchless patterning and deposition of 2-D semiconductors on a wafer scale.”


Source: Nature Communications
Image: Nature Communications


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SVC Membership

SVC Membership Offers Many Benefits


Join or renew your membership for 2017 now and enjoy the benefits of membership for the entire calendar year. Members enjoy free access to the SVC Digital Library and special discounts for many SVC products and services.


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TechCon Tutorial Course Offerings

Choose from TechCon Tutorial Course Offerings for Every Skill Level


The TechCon Tutorial Program increases attendees’ practical knowledge of vacuum coatings and processes. Return to work with solutions to everyday vacuum coating troubles and breathe new life into your technical career.


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SVConnections Contributing Editors:
Carl M. Lampert, SVC Technical Director
Joyce Lampert


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