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2 December 2015

Advanced Vacuum APEX SLR system expanding device processing at NASA's JPL

Plasma process equipment maker Plasma-Therm LLC of St Petersburg, FL, USA says that a new Apex SLR ICP (inductively coupled plasma) etch system from its Advanced Vacuum division in Lomma, Sweden (which supplies vacuum solutions including thin-film plasma etch and deposition systems) was recently installed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, USA, expanding the fabrication capabilities of the site's Microdevices Laboratory (MDL).

The MDL continues to update its wafer-level plasma processing equipment set with this system, the sixth overall from Plasma-Therm and Advanced Vacuum, and the third in the last two years. These systems are used to make critical components for NASA explorations, including detectors to map background cosmic radiation for better understanding of the universe's beginnings, solid-state lasers used in detection of carbon dioxide and methane on Earth, Mars and other planets, and infrared sensor arrays for terrestrial and extraterrestrial imaging.

The MDL has a multitude of both internal and external users, and thus Apex's ease of operation and the system's reliability are important performance requirements, says Plasma-Therm. Recently, the Apex SLR and other systems were on display to the nearly 14,000 attending JPL's annual open house.

Industrial fabrication facilities are usually designed for mass production using a single set of standard processes. However, operations at MDL, which develops unique devices for space applications, must be much more versatile, involving research, development, and small-scale production of a broad range of devices, wafer sizes, wafer thicknesses, and material families.

Plasma-Therm says that the Apex SLR provides the capabilities that MDL and other research facilities need to process a variety of materials, including dielectrics, metals, polymers, compound semiconductors, and superconducting materials. The recently installed Apex system is process-qualified with fluorine-based chemistries to etch dielectrics and superconducting materials.

"Our relationship with NASA's JPL goes back many years," says Dr David Lishan, Plasma-Therm's principal scientist & director, Technical Marketing. "With each system that is used to make new sensors and high-performance devices, we anticipate being part of exciting and often unexpected science."

Tags: Plasma-Therm

Visit: www.plasmatherm.com

Visit: www.Advanced-Vacuum.com

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