Today, Surrey NanoSystems sets a new benchmark for the
production of nanomaterials with the launch of an automated and exceptionally
versatile growth platform, NanoGrowth-Catalyst.
Incorporating nine advanced nanomaterial processing techniques, the
platform can synthesize an exceptional variety of nanomaterials including
graphene, nanowires and carbon nanotubes.
Application versatility is enhanced by a multi-chamber
design—a first in this industry sector—that ensures the purest processing
conditions by continuously maintaining the substrate under vacuum from
deposition of catalysts to growth of nanomaterials. This end-to-end vacuum processing is critical
for the precursors and catalysts used for nanomaterials, which are easily
contaminated by exposure to atmosphere.
Surrey NanoSystems entered the business world with a
platform combining both CVD and plasma-enhanced CVD nanomaterial growth
“This new platform takes processing flexibility much
farther. It offers the means to support and speed research across the spectrum
of nanomaterials, combined with automated handling and control to help
developers turn material growth ideas into practical and repeatable production
processes,” says Ben Jensen of Surrey NanoSystems.
NanoGrowth-Catalyst will replace multiple pieces of
equipment with a single automated system. The processing techniques supported
by the new platform are: LPCVD (low-pressure chemical vapor deposition) and
PECVD (plasma-enhanced CVD), sputtering, sputter etching and ashing, delivery
of solid- or liquid-phase catalysts/precursors, creation of controlled-density
nanoparticle catalysts at room temperature, thermal annealing, rapid thermal
processing (RTP), and a unique form of rapid thermal growth for nanomaterials
called RTG which has been developed to prevent agglomeration of catalyst
The platform also supports broadband substrate degassing to
remove surface contaminants before processing – helping to ensure the optimum
adhesion of catalysts and films. An inductively coupled plasma source can
additionally be fitted as an option – at the time of purchase or during the
platform’s lifecycle—to optimize the generation of sensitive materials employed
in growth processes.
A highly graphical interface gives users complete control
over the processing parameters and steps. With its range of techniques users
can employ NanoGrowth-Catalyst for creating or delivering growth catalysts and
precursors (the sputtering platform’s dual magnetrons also support co-deposition),
depositing nanoparticles at room temperature, catalyst or material activation,
growing materials, etching, and deposition of active or passive barrier films.
The system has three chambers: a load/lock chamber and two
reaction chambers, plus an automatic transport system for moving
wafers/substrates. End-to-end atmosphere-free processing ensures the highest
purity conditions to minimize contamination and oxidation and ensure consistent
and repeatable results. Despite its extensive capability, NanoGrowth-Catalyst
occupies a small cleanroom footprint of 1 x 2 m.
The specification for this richly equipped platform came
partly from requests by users of Surrey NanoSystems’ first growth platform, the
single reaction chamber NanoGrowth 1000n, and from researchers at Surrey
NanoSystems and its research partner, the Advanced Technology Institute at the
University of Surrey.
In addition to making growth platforms, Surrey NanoSystems
is engaged in developing nanoelectronics materials and processes to support the
continued scaling of semiconductor devices. NanoGrowth-Catalyst’s automated
handling and wealth of processing capabilities are seen as the ultimate
platform to support the company’s own research into nanomaterial growth at
temperatures compatible with mainstream CMOS fabrication. The company has
already made significant advances in developing practical techniques for
fabricating interconnection vias and low-k dielectrics for inter-layer
insulation – key challenges on the semiconductor industry’s roadmap as process
Surrey NanoSystems has already received advance orders for
the new NanoGrowth-Catalyst, and is currently manufacturing an initial batch of
Surrey NanoSystems is represented in the USA by Axiom