Colnatec LLC and Fraunhofer IPMS-CNT Sign Joint Research & Development Agreement

Colnatec Tempe™ sensor system to be proven as world’s first in situ film thickness monitoring system for Atomic Layer Deposition

Gilbert, AZ, May 22, 2013 --( Arizona-based Colnatec LLC and Fraunhofer Center Nanoelectronic Techologies (IPMS-CNT), of Dresden, Germany, have signed a joint research and development agreement with the mutual goal of advancing the development of deposition equipment and processes for atomic layer deposition (ALD) in semiconductor and photovoltaic applications. The project itself will test the efficacy of Colnatec’s real-time, high-temperature film thickness monitoring system in a manufacturing-scale equipment environment.

One of the key issues in ALD is the lack of in-situ process control during production. This is due to the high temperatures and the corrosive nature of the constituent gases used. The lack of real time measurement leads to an inability to control the process, the ramifications of which are yield loss, process failure, and poor production economics.

“Current competitor measurement systems are post production, meaning manufacturers can’t prevent yield loss from precursor pulse failure,” commented Colnatec CEO, Wendy Jameson. “With a real-time system in place inside the hot chamber, process line engineers can know immediately if a pulse failure occurs, as it occurs, and stop the process before the wafer is ruined, saving thousands of dollars per batch.”

“Another potential use for the sensor system is for particulate,” added Scott Grimshaw, Colnatec Chief Technology Officer. “Tempe operates as a machine maintenance sensor, predicting when an ALD system needs to be cleaned. With the minute amounts of “dirt” allowable inside a chamber, having a dirt-buildup warning system is akin to having a smoke detector: as soon as maximum allowable amounts of particulate accumulate, the system shuts off, sending a warning signal to the operator and preventing wafer damage.”

With the scaling down of semiconductor devices, the need for nanotechnology has increased tremendously. Nanoscale devices need to be as thin and perfect as possible, so the use of ALD during nanofabrication is inherently well suited, as it is intrinsically atomic in nature and results in the controlled deposition of films at the atomic scale, conformal coatings, and pin-hole free deposition.Today ALD is used in production of DRAM, Advanced CMOS, MEMS, and passivation of crystal silicon solar cells, to name a few applications.

The Tempe™ System is designed for thin film coating process control when high evaporation or chamber temperatures are required. Because it is able to maintain temperatures within a range of 50-500ºC the sensor is able to detect the breakdown of the gases used in the ALD process. This leads to a real-time measurement of film thickness on the order of Angstroms. The Tempe™ system is equally suited for other high temperature manufacturing processes, including thin film solar cell, organic light emitting diode (OLED), chemical vapor deposition (CVD), and rapid thermal processing (RTP). Combined with the Eon™ film thickness controller, which is capable of real-time correction of any natural frequency drift in the crystal during heating, any process that requires heated crystals or high measurement accuracy will see exponential improvement, leading to the highest accuracy possible as well as enabling continuous crystal operation without cooling.

“Colnatec sensors are exciting for us,” noted Dr. Jonas Sundqvist, Group Leader, High-k Devices at Fraunhofer CNT, “because they will give us insight into our process where we’ve had none before. They also enable us to build better ALD equipment, develop stable ALD precursor chemistries, and eventually deliver a process to our customers worthy of mass production with a low cost of ownership. By integrating the Tempe™ sensor in to the ALD process chamber kit,” he added, “we think we can reduce machine down time, use fewer test wafers, and optimize time and fab floor space for ex-situ process control through monitoring with in-line metrology. This could be very important for our industry--today on 300mm wafers but especially for the upcoming move to 450mm wafer size.”

About Colnatec LLC
Colnatec designs, develops and manufactures state-of-the-art sensors and electronic instrumentation used in the production of CIGS thin film solar cells, organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays and lighting, and high speed electrical devices. Through the use of patented and patent-pending technologies, researchers, manufacturers and system builders are able to increase the conversion efficiency of photovoltaic films, increase production run times, lower costs, improve overall performance, and ultimately increase yield. Funded in part by Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the US Department of Energy (DOE), Colnatec is the holder of numerous patents and is an inaugural winner of the 2011 Arizona Commerce Authority Innovation Challenge Grant. As part of the DOE SunShot Program, they are members of the DOE Small Business and Clean Energy Alliance Partnership. For more information, visit, (480) 634-1449, or

About Fraunhofer Center Nanoelectronic Technologies (IPMS-CNT)
Fraunhofer CNT is an established research partner for advanced material and process development for the semiconductor industry and integrated in the leading microelectronics cluster in Europe, Silicon Saxony. As founder of the competence network ALD Lab Dresden, CNT is a technology provider for a variety of ALD application areas, such as DRAM, advanced CMOS and Emerging memories. Based on the leading 300 mm tool set and an industry conform environment, innovations can be directly integrated into volume production to reduce time and costs for customers.

For more information, visit, (049) 351 2607-3001 or
Wendy Jameson