29 June 2021
Riber and LAAS-CNRS creating joint lab EPICENTRE
Riber S.A. of Bezons, France – which manufactures molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) systems as well as evaporation sources and effusion cells – and the CNRS Laboratory for Analysis and Architecture of Systems (LAAS-CNRS) in Toulouse – one of the largest in-house units of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) – are creating the joint laboratory EPICENTRE, within which they will share, for a six-year period, their respective expertise in MBE.
The micro- and nanotechnology platform that will house the joint laboratory’s MBE equipment (a 1600m2 cleanroom open to collaboration with the academic world and the industrial sector) is a member of Renatech, the French network of high-end facilities in micro and nanotechnology.
The objective of EPICENTRE is to put in place a strategy for technological innovation in MBE through joint governance and a research plan designed to open up the development of a series of technical components.
The first technical pillar involves developing a series of complementary, non-destructive in-situ metrics tools that ensure ultimate control over epitaxy processes for complex materials. Its aim is to provide solutions to significantly improve MBE processes with a view to offering increased automation, stability and reproducibility for growth processes across the entire range of Riber systems.
EPICENTRE’s second technical pillar is to develop a dedicated solution for superconductor materials growth for the datacom sector, focused in particular on quantum computing, specifically addressing the technical challenge of epitaxy at cryogenic temperatures. Its aim is to invent new hybrid epitaxially grown interfaces forming the basic building blocks for future spintronics and quantum components.
Solutions for growing complex components – e.g. vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), multi-junction solar cells – will also be developed with a view to demonstrating the efficiency, effectiveness and relevance of these in-situ metrics tools with a view to mass production.
Alongside this, EPICENTRE will launch work on machine learning, an area with strong expectations for the MBE community, looking to optimize the analysis of materials growth processes.
Program driving innovation
This program aims to design an MBE platform, currently unrivalled on the market, focused on the growth of complex III-V and superconductor structures and incorporating advanced automated control processes.
The LAAS-CNRS micro-nano technology unit will therefore soon be receiving a platform from Riber that will be fitted with an instrumentation range fully integrated with Riber’s Crystal XE process control software, with features including the in-situ monitoring and control of epitaxial growth parameters. All of these parameters and the corresponding ex-situ characterizations will be compiled in a knowledge base.
This collaboration, supporting innovation, should ultimately make it possible to extend the overall approach to cover Riber’s entire range of research and production machines.
Building on longstanding relationship
The creation of EPICENTRE should further strengthen the partnership between LAAS-CNRS and Riber, which have had a close relationship for the past 35 years. For example, LAAS-CNRS has trained a number of Riber staff on MBE technology, has developed a number of demonstrators and characterizations for the firm’s clients, and is now a showcase for Riber’s know-how.
In 2019, Riber acquired the license to use a patent for an LAAS-CNRS measurement instrument, EZ Curve, enabling the real-time monitoring of substrate curvature for constrained epitaxy. Launched on the market by Riber at the start of 2021, this instrument makes it possible to monitor changes in constraints and determine alloy thickness and concentration levels with significantly higher precision than rival products, it is claimed.
It is expected that the creation of EPICENTRE will make it possible to capitalize more effectively on such joint technology innovations.