Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology Chosen by Automotive Supplier for GaN-Powered Electronic Device Development

June 13, 2021 by Stephanie Leonida

A German semiconductor manufacturer selects Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology’s PlasmaPro 100 ALE solution for creating gallium nitride-based power electronic devices.

Oxford Instruments plc (OI) is a UK-based company that specializes in developing instruments and superconducting materials for analyzing and manipulating matter at both atomic and molecular levels. The company’s product range includes deposition and etch tools, optical imaging, X-ray, modular optical spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, atomic force microscopy, and low temperature systems. 

Recently, OI Plasma Technology, announced that a tier 1 German semiconductor manufacturer to the automotive industry chose its PlasmaPro 100 ALE system for the development of next-generation gallium nitride (GaN)-powered electronic devices.

Image used courtesy of OI 
Image used courtesy of OI 

The PlasmaPro 100 ALE

Oxford Instruments’ PlasmaPro 100 ALE has been designed to help customers achieve precise process control of etching for next-generation semiconductor devices. The PlasmaPro works alongside OIs’ Cobra ICP platform and uses specialized hardware for atomic layer etching.

One feature of the PlasmaPro is a fluid-controlled electrode that is run via a recirculating chiller unit. This electrode has been designed to provide superior temperature control. Other features include a high pumping capacity and wafer clamping with He backside cooling for optimum wafer temperature control. 

The electrode of the PlasmaPro comes with a wide temperature range (-150°C to +400°C) and it can be cooled by liquid nitrogen, a fluid recirculating chiller, or resistively heated. A blow out and fluid exchange unit can be used to automate the switching between different modes. A variable height electrode uses the 3-dimensional (3D) characteristics of the plasma and can accommodate substrates up to 10mm thick at maximum height. 

The PlasmaPro delivers reactive species to the substrate and all the while maintains a uniform high conductance path through the chamber. A showerhead is present that provides uniform plasma processing with low frequency/radio frequency (LF/RF) switching. This can help users control film stress with greater precision. The low-damage solution allows users to switch between wafer sizes (up to 200 mm) faster.

OIs’ PlasmaPro 100 ALE. Image used courtesy of OI 
OIs’ PlasmaPro 100 ALE. Image used courtesy of OI 

In a recent news release, Strategic Business Development Director of OI Plasma Technology, Klaas Wisniewski, commented: "Our Atomic Scale Processing etch solution being selected by this world-leading manufacturer for their GaN power electronics program is an important strategic win for Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology.” Wisniewski added: "The GaN-based power electronic market is very dynamic with improvements to both performance and cost expected at each design iteration. This reiterates the importance of our strategy to focus on atomic-scale processing solutions such as atomic layer deposition (ALD) and atomic layer etching (ALE). We are pleased that such a leading automotive semiconductor company recognizes the benefits our solutions deliver.”

The automotive supplier intends to use OI Plasma Technology’s solution in research and development (R&D) to create GaN power devices. Fast charger applications and electric vehicle power management systems may benefit from such technology.