Vacuum components play a critical role in a wide variety of high technology applications – semiconductor, hard disk drives, flat panel display, lighting, solar cells and thermal and general vacuum coating systems. All of these are examples of “High Technology” applications that typically use cryopumps or cryocoolers as part of their critical processes.
Semiconductor devices include transistors, MEMS, memory (DRAM, flash memory), wafer level packaging (WLP), interconnects and patterning. These devices are manufactured using a variety of process steps including chemical vapor deposition (CVD), high-k/metal gate physical vapor deposition (PVD), ion implantation, rapid thermal processing (RTP), epitaxy, etch, planarization, patterning/photolithography and defect inspection. Many of these processes require either high vacuum or low temperature, both absolute core competences of the SHI Cryogenics Group.
Consumer applications of semiconductor technology include smart phones and tablets (including the accelerometers and gyroscopes built within), televisions, blue ray players, computers, video game consoles, memory cards, USB flash drives, PDAs, digital audio players, automobile navigation and airbag sensors, medical and communications devices, industrial robotics and many more.
Hard Disk Drives
One of the critical manufacturing processes for hard disk drives (HDDs) is magnetic annealing of highly magnetoresistive thin films (giant magnetoresistance or GMR), and the related spin valve in metallic multilayered and magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ) structures. The MTJs consist of two ferromagnetic layers separated by a thin insulating layer where the ferromagnetic layers are pinned by exchange bias to an antiferromagnetic layer. The pinning is achieved by annealing the layer in a magnetic field at a specified temperature. Magnetic annealing is typically accomplished with a system using a superconducting magnet, cooled to cryogenic temperatures by SHI cryocoolers.
Flat Panel Display (FPD)
Flat Panel Displays include televisions, computer screens, tablets, smart phones or any device requiring a high resolution display. Picture tubes are in our distant memory as we have seen televisions evolve to plasma screens, to LCD, to LED and now to OLED technologies.
FPD devices are manufactured using a variety of process steps. Depending on the technology, these include physical vapor deposition (PVD), chemical vapor deposition (CVD), evaporation and sputtering. These processes require vacuum conditioning of the manufacturing chambers and are well suited for the cryopumping technology of the SHI Cryogenics Group.
LED/OLED lighting is manufactured using a variety of process steps. Depending on the technology, these include physical vapor deposition (PVD), chemical vapor deposition (CVD), evaporation and sputtering. Much like FPD, these processes require vacuum conditioning of the manufacturing chambers and are well suited for the cryopumping technology of the SHI Cryogenics Group.
Consumer applications of LED/OLED lighting include virtually any consumer or business requirement for conventional or “designer” lighting.
Solar And General Coating
The number of other technologies that make up the “High Technology” sector are enormous in number. Solar energy is a dream of many wishing to see the status quo migrate to more energy independence, with less impact on the environment. Many common products are coated under vacuum, including sunglasses, automobile parts, glass and many more.
Many of these high technology products are manufactured using some level of high vacuum, which, of course, typically requires cryopumps, water traps or cryocoolers to improve the quality of the end product.