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The Revolution of PVD Systems in Thin Film Semiconductor Production

The field of semiconductor technology has revolutionised the way we approach electronic devices. From smartphones and laptops to cars and space shuttles, semiconductors play a significant role in powering our everyday lives. With the increasing demand for smaller and more efficient electronic devices, the need for thin-film semiconductor production has become critical.

In this article, we’ll explore why film deposition is a critical tool in modern electronics and how PVD systems are changing the way we approach it, as well as some of the most common semiconductor applications of thin film technology.

What Are Thin-Film Semiconductors?

HEX series for thin film deposition for solid-state batteries

Semiconductors are materials that have electrical conductivity that is between that of conductors and insulators. Silicon is the most commonly used semiconductor material, and it is widely known for its ability to conduct an electric current.

In simple terms, thin-film semiconductors are composed of a thin layer of semiconductor material that is deposited onto a substrate, typically made of glass or silicon. These thin films are essential components in semiconductor device fabrication and have been widely used due to their unique properties.

This combination of substrate and film offers several advantages over traditional bulk semiconductor materials, including flexibility, reduced cost, and improved performance. These material depositionand fabrication techniques have been extended to various industrial applications, including solar cells, transistors, sensors, and LEDs.

How Are Thin-Film Semiconductors Deposited?

There are several methods of thin film deposition available. These methods vary based on the precursor from which the thin film is deposited, the type of substrate used, and the conditions of the deposition process. Some of the most commonly used methods for thin film deposition include chemical vapour deposition (CVD), physical vapour deposition (PVD), and sputter coating.

Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD)

Chemical vapour deposition (CVD) is a widely used technique for depositing high-quality thin films. CVD involves the use of a precursor gas and a reaction product to deposit the thin film on the substrate surface. CVD is used to deposit thin films such as silicon dioxide, silicon carbide, and gallium nitride.

Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD)

Physical vapour deposition (PVD) is a technique that involves the use of thermal or energy sources to evaporate a target material and deposit it onto the substrate surface, forming a thin metal coating. The PVD process is commonly used in the production of thin films that require high efficiency, such as photovoltaic cells and semiconductor manufacturing.

Sputter Coating

Sputter coating is another method of thin-film deposition. It involves the use of a gaseous plasma to bombard a target and create ions that then deposit on the substrate surface, forming a thin film.

Epitaxial Thin Film Growth

Epitaxial thin film growth involves the deposition of thin films of materials in such a way that they have the same crystalline structure as the substrate on which they are deposited. Some of the most widely used epitaxial thin film growth methods include atomic layer deposition (ALD), molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), and metal organic chemical vapour deposition (MOCVD).

Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD)

Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) is a technique used to deposit very thin films of compounds onto a substrate surface. The process involves the use of cyclic reactions with two or more precursors, allowing for precise control of thickness and composition. ALD is frequently used to deposit high-quality thin films, such as dielectrics, semiconductors, and metals.

Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE)

Molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) involves the deposition of individual atoms and molecules onto a substrate surface under ultra-high vacuum conditions. This method is widely used to deposit epitaxial layers of semiconductors, such as gallium arsenide and indium phosphide.

Metal Organic Chemical Vapour Deposition (MOCVD)

Metal Organic Chemical Vapour Deposition (MOCVD) is a technique that combines chemical vapour deposition with the use of organometallic precursors to deposit thin films of compound semiconductors onto a substrate surface. MOCVD is commonly used for depositing thin films for laser diodes and LEDs.

What Are PVD Systems, And How Are They Used?

pvd coating in process in a thin film deposition system

PVD (physical vapour deposition) systems are used in thin-film semiconductor production to deposit thin films of materials onto substrates.

A typical PVD chamber consists of several components, including a vacuum pump, a vapour source, and a substrate holder. The vacuum pump is used to create the appropriate vacuum conditions, while the vapour source houses the target material that is to be deposited as a thin film.

Types of PVD Systems

pvd coating in progress inside a thin film deposition system

There are several types of PVD systems that are used in thin-film semiconductor production. Some of the most commonly used methods include thermal evaporation, electron beam evaporation, and sputtering.

Among them, thermal evaporation has the advantage of being able to deposit a wide range of materials, although it is limited in terms of the thicknesses that can be achieved. On the other hand, electron beam evaporation is suitable for depositing metal oxides and other high-temperature materials, while sputtering is used to deposit metals and dielectric materials.

The choice between these thin film deposition systems will depend on the desired material and thickness of the deposited film, as well as the available equipment. In addition, it is important to consider the cost and complexity of each system in order to ensure that an optimal solution is chosen.

Applications of Thin Film Semiconductor Fabrication

Thin-film semiconductors have become an essential component in the manufacturing of semiconductor devices. These devices are used in a wide range of applications, including transistors, sensors, and LEDs. Moreover, this technology has enabled a wide range of applications, including radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, solar cells, and thin-film batteries. [2]

Let’s take a look at some of its most common uses.

Transistors

Transistors are one of the most widely used semiconductor devices, used in almost all electronic devices. Thin-film semiconductors are used to create the thin layer that forms the transistor.

In this case, the thin-film transistor is formed by depositing the semiconductor material over a substrate and patterning it into the desired shape, creating an array of microscopic transistors.

Sensors

Thin-film semiconductors are also used in the production of various types of sensors, including temperature sensors, IR (infrared) sensors, and gas sensors.

LEDS

Thin-film semiconductors are used to make LEDs (light-emitting diodes) that are efficient and small in size, making them ideal for use in various applications such as lighting, displays, and control systems.

Emerging Uses of Thin Film Semiconductors

Thin-film semiconductors are being studied for their application in emerging technologies such as photovoltaic cells and laser diodes. As the production techniques for thin-film semiconductors continue to advance, it is expected that more applications will be discovered.

Photovoltaic Cells

Thin-film semiconductors are being used in the manufacturing of photovoltaic cells, which convert light energy into electrical energy. Thin-film semiconductors are ideal for this application because they allow for more efficient energy conversion by absorbing light more efficiently.

Laser Diodes

Thin-film semiconductors are used in the manufacture of laser diodes, which are used in a wide range of applications, including communication, defence, and entertainment.

Advancements in Thin Film Semiconductor Production with PVD Systems

The ability to create thin films of semiconductor materials with precise properties is critical in many applications, and recent advancements in PVD systems have been focused on developing new deposition processes enabling consistent deposition of thin film semiconductor layers.

One of the most significant challenges in thin-film semiconductor production is obtaining a uniformly thick layer of material. Recent improvements in PVD systems have focused on improving the uniformity and purity of the thin-film semiconductor material deposited on the substrate surface.

In this field, PVD systems have facilitated an extraordinary level of control over thin film thickness and surface morphology, making it possible to create thin films of materials with precise characteristics.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, thin-film semiconductor technology is an essential component in the field of electronics. The advancements in thin-film deposition and fabrication techniques have extended to various industrial applications, including solar cells, transistors, sensors, and LEDs.

Korvus Technology is the leading provider of PVD (physical vapour deposition) systems that combine state-of-the-art technology with breakthroughs in thin-film semiconductor production. Our products are designed to reduce costs, increase quality, and improve throughput, all while ensuring a high return on investment for our customers.

With our programmable control systems and advanced data collection capabilities, you can trust Korvus to provide an efficient, cost-effective solution that sets you apart from the competition. We can guarantee a short setup time with multiple options, so your system will be perfectly customised to fit your needs.

See how Korvus Technology can help you achieve success today! Try us out now by scheduling a free consultation and discovering how we can help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is Thin Film Semiconductor Film Deposition Technology?

Thin Film  Semiconductor Film Deposition is a technology that involves depositing or coating a thin layer, typically ranging from a few nanometers to microns, of semiconductor material on a substrate.

What Are Semiconductor Thin Films?

Semiconductor thin films are layers of semiconductor material that are deposited or grown, typically ranging from a few nanometers to microns in thickness, on a substrate using various deposition processes such as chemical vapour deposition (CVD) or electron beam (e-beam) evaporation.

What Is Thin Film Deposition?

Thin film deposition is the process of depositing a thin layer of material on a substrate using various techniques such as chemical vapour deposition (CVD), sputtering, or electron beam (e-beam) evaporation for various applications such as microelectronic devices, optical devices, and sensor devices.

What Is A Coating?

Coating is the process of applying a thin layer of material, such as a thin-film semiconductor, to a substrate for various applications, such as optical or electronic devices.

What Are The Deposition Processes?

Deposition processes are various techniques for depositing or growing a thin layer of material on a substrate. Examples of deposition processes are chemical vapour deposition (CVD), sputtering, and electron beam (e-beam) evaporation. [1]

What Are Semiconductor Devices?

Semiconductor devices are electronic components made from various semiconductor materials, such as silicon, germanium, or gallium arsenide. These components are used in electronic devices such as transistors, diodes, and solar cells.

What Is An Electron?

An electron is a subatomic particle that carries a negative charge and orbits around atomic nuclei. Electrons play a critical role in various phenomena such as electricity, magnetism, and chemical bonding.

What Are Some Of The Latest Advances In Thin-Film Deposition?

Advances in thin film deposition involve new deposition methods, materials, and technologies for depositing semiconductors, metals, or oxides on various substrates for implementing new electronic or optical components.

What Are The Material Properties Of Thin Films?

Material properties of thin films, such as chemical composition, structure, thickness, and morphology, affect their physical and chemical properties, such as optical, electrical, and mechanical properties.

What Is CVD?

Chemical vapour deposition (CVD) is a deposition method for thin-film semiconductor coatings that involves the reaction between vapour molecules of a reactant gas and a solid substrate inside a reaction chamber at high temperatures and/or low pressures.

References

[1] Choi, J., Park, K., Kim, H., & Kim, D. (2018). Influence of sputtering power on the electrical properties of In–Zn–O thin films deposited by RF magnetron sputtering. Journal of Alloys and Compounds, 747, 390-395. 

[2] Butt, M. A. (2022, August 4). Thin-film coating methods: A successful marriage of high-quality and cost-effectiveness-a brief exploration. MDPI. Retrieved May 6, 2023, from https://www.mdpi.com/2079-6412/12/8/1115

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