Tag Archives: atmospheric plasma

Oct 13 2012

Lights! Camera! Acton! New Products on YouTube


Surfx Technologies is pleased to announce a new range of Atmospheric Plasma Products. These products have increased performance, additional features, production integration capability and system status feedback. These improvements have been driven by the introduction of the next generation of atmospheric plasma controllers. Customers across many industries now have even more choices in high-speed plasma systems that can also be easily integrated into existing production environments.

High-speed atmospheric plasma can be used for cleaning, etching, deposition, surface modification and activation prior to bonding. This safe plasma technology creates a beam of plasma for materials processing at atmospheric pressure and low temperatures and is clean room compatible. The clean reactive gas flows over and through micro-structured materials, uniformly treating surfaces without any damage to sensitive electronics or

Go to our YouTube channel to see more! 

Oct 09 2012

New Atmospheric Plasma Products in Europe


Messe Dresden, Germany, October 9, 2012 – Surfx Technologies is expanding its latest range of Atmospheric Plasma Products into the European market. For the first time, Surfx Technologies together with major distribution partner, Novel Technology Transfer GmbH, are showcasing the new line of Atomflo™ plasma systems at SEMICON Europa 2012 from October 9 to 11.

With increased performance, additional features, production integration capability and system status feedback, customers across many industries in Europe now have even more choices in high-speed plasma systems, which can easily integrate into existing production environments. The Atomflo™ plasma systems is unique in that it is a particle-free plasma source, and generates significantly less particle contamination than vacuum plasmas.

Just released in September, the Atomflo 500 atmospheric plasma controller offers real-time process feedback, argon or helium primary gas, multiple secondary gas handling and integrated machine I/O. The Atomflo 500 is an excellent fit for demanding high-throughput production applications that require direct real-time process monitoring feedback. This completely new controller design includes a touch-screen user interface, increased RF power and high-speed RF tuning, and an increased accuracy of the matching network.

Surfx Technologies also recently launched the Standalone Plasma Machine (SPM) to provide customers with a turnkey system that integrates the Atomflo 500 solution into an automated, compact, multi-axis application system. The SPM includes advanced graphical motion management software (generating NC code for the motion engine), 4-axis motion with 400 x 400 x 300 mm plasma treatment volume and modular control system architecture, capable of interfacing to other systems via network communication and/or SMEMA interface.

The new Atomflo 400S, an upgrade of its popular A400 model, is now in the market and can be used as a standalone R&D tool or integrated with any motion system to automate customer’s process needs. Additional process parameters and an increased controller memory for additional stored process recipes and simplified recipe management, will result in faster tuning performance for customers.

“Our atmospheric plasma tools are safe, clean room compatible and fast,” explains Roger Williams, Vice President of Sales for Surfx Technologies. “Our patented downstream plasma will not expose sensitive electronics or circuits to potentially damaging electric fields. We also offer high speed LED encapsulation processes as well as solar thin film and silicon cell process solutions. Customers will gain better performance, single part traceability and increase package yield.”

“We are excited about the opportunity to expand our broad spectrum of products and services to our customers with the new line of Atomflo plasma systems,” says Max Wanninger, President, Novel Technology Transfer GmbH. “We will be able to provide even more high-speed atmospheric plasma solutions for cleaning, etching, deposition, surface modification and activation. Surfx Technologies’ new integrated end-point detection and real-time spectroanalysis will ensure our customers have the best solutions for high volume and/or high value manufacturing processes.”

Atmospheric pressure plasmas eliminate the need for harsh chemicals or inefficient vacuum chambers that are limited to batch processes. The Atomflo atmospheric pressure plasma generates a stream of reactive gas at low temperatures so many materials can be treated, including polymers, epoxies, metals, ceramics and glass.

Oct 03 2012

Bob’s Surface & Plasma Blog


Good day to everyone who reads this blog.  I have started this informal communication with you to reach out to people who are interested in engineering surfaces, and want to find out what atmospheric pressure plasmas can do for them.  I am presenting this material with my hat on as Senior Vice President at Surfx Technologies.  Over the years, I have learned that people have a lot of questions concerning the use of plasmas to manufacture commercial products.

The main questions are: (1) what are the principal applications of plasmas in manufacturing; (2) how do I know which plasma to choose from the many types on the market, and (3) why would I select plasma over other types of surface treatment, such as abrasion, solvent wiping, or chemical etching.  Over the coming months I am going to take a shot at answering these questions.  I encourage readers of my blog to ask me questions, or select topics that they would like me to discuss in the areas of surfaces and plasma processing.  I sincerely hope you find this helpful as well as enjoyable to read.

Definition of Plasma
Before I start, let’s make it clear that we are talking about an ionized gas, and not a component of blood.  If you’re interested in blood, you’ve come to the wrong website.  An ionized gas, or plasma (or alternatively, a gas discharge), is comprised of free electrons, negatively and positively charged ions, and neutral molecules.  Plasmas can be created many ways, but the most common method is through the application of a sufficient voltage to strip electrons away from the neutral molecules, thereby ionizing the gas.  Plasmas conduct electricity, consume power (watts), and are sustained by the application of an electric potential (volts) and current (amps).

Applications of Plasma in Manufacturing
The principal applications of plasma in manufacturing are for making functional materials and surfaces.  Plasmas come in contact with materials at their surfaces.  Any change in material function must proceed through processes that occur at the surface.  The important applications are therefore:

(1)   Cleaning, i.e., contaminant removal.

(2)   Activation for wetting, i.e., adjustment of the surface energy.

(3)   Activation for adhesion.

(4)   Sterilization.

(5)   Etching of nanometer to micron scale features in materials.

(6)   Deposition of nanometer to micron thick coatings.

The six applications listed above are presented approximately in order of the time it takes to accomplish the task.  Cleaning can take a short or long time depending on the amount of contaminant on the surface.  “Gross contamination” corresponds to organic layers that are more than a micron thick.  This type of contamination is best handled by aqueous washing or solvent rinsing.  An exception to this rule is photoresist film removal, which is a standard plasma process carried out by the semiconductor industry.  “Fine contamination” is present on all surfaces, even after those recently cleaned.  This last layer on the surface is best removed by plasma, and it takes on the order of 0.1 to 10.0 seconds to complete.

Surface activation for wetting is the process of putting specific chemical groups on a material surface to precisely fix its energy.  Wetting refers to the spreading of water droplets onto a surface to make a continuous film.  If there is a low surface energy, droplets will not spread out, and the water contact angle between the droplet and the surface will be high, ~90o.  By contrast, if the surface energy is high (say 70 dynes-cm), the droplets spread out and merge together easily, with the water contract angle below 20o.  Wetting is necessary in some industries, such as printing, to get the desired coverage of the fluid on the solid surface.  Putting functional groups down on a surface is a fast process, because only one atomic layer is being changed.  This process is completed in the millisecond to second time range.

Surface activation for adhesion is also the process of putting specific chemical groups on a material surface, but this time the goal is to achieve strong bonds between the surface and an adhesive or glue.  As stated by Dr Mittal, “the strength of an adhesive bond increases with the quality and quantity of connections made at the interface.”  Since here as well we are only affecting roughly one atomic layer of the material, this process is fast, and can be completed in the millisecond to second time range.  If cleaning to remove fine contamination is required prior to activating the surface, then the process time can increases to tens of seconds.  Adhesively joining materials is ubiquitous in manufacturing, cutting across many industries from automotive and aerospace to packaging and electronics.  This is by far the largest industrial application of plasmas.

Sterilization is at present a relatively small application of ionized gas discharges.  Here we are killing microorganisms prior to packaging products which are destined for human consumption, either, food, drugs, medical devices, medical instrumentation, etc.  If the microorganisms are present on the product in thick film form than washing is probably the most effective cleaning route.  However, if you need to make sure that every last bug is killed down to the last layer on the surface, then plasma sterilization is a good way to go.  This process takes several seconds to several minutes to complete.  In this case, the job is finished when less than one biological organism remains out of more than a million that were present initially.

Etching nanometer to micron scale features on a surface is a crucial step in manufacturing integrated circuits, flat panel displays, microelectromechanical systems, and other microelectronic devices.  Vacuum plasmas are uniquely capable of etching these features, because one can direct the positively charge ions in the gas to bombard the surface with high energy, such that trenches with straight sidewalls are generated in the material.  Blanket etching is possible as well, as in the case of photoresist removal.  However, this process is relatively slow taking from a minute to as much as an hour to finish.

The last important application is the deposition onto materials of nanometer to micron thick coatings.  Thin film deposition is another crucial step in manufacturing integrated circuits, flat panel displays, microelectromechanical systems, medical devices, etc.  Plasmas are very valuable tools for this process, because they enable the coatings to be laid down at low temperatures where no thermal damage to the expensive electronic device can occur.  Since this process usually requires depositing many thousands of layers of atoms on the material one atomic layer at a time, it is a relatively slow process taking from a minute up to an hour to complete.

Sep 04 2012

Surfx Unveils New Atmospheric Plasma Products


Atomflo 500 SystemToday at SEMICON Taiwan, Surfx Technologies just released a new range of atmospheric plasma products with increased performance and additional features. Customers now have even more choices in high-speed plasma systems that can also be easily integrated into existing production environments.

Our patented downstream plasma will not expose sensitive electronics or circuits to potentially damaging electric fields. We also offer high speed LED encapsulation processes as well as solar thin film and silicon cell process solutions. Customers will gain better performance, single part traceability and increase package yield.”

The Atomflo™ 500 atmospheric plasma controller, which offers real time process feedback, argon or helium primary gas, multiple secondary gas handling and integrated machine I/O is now available from Surfx Technologies. The Atomflo 500 is an excellent fit for demanding high-throughput production applications that require direct real-time process monitoring feedback. This completely new controller design includes a touch-screen user interface, increased RF power and high-speed RF tuning, and an increased accuracy of the matching network.

Standalone Plasma MachineSurfx Technologies also released the Standalone Plasma Machine (SPM) to provide customers with a turnkey system that integrates the Atomflo 500 solution into an automated, compact, multi-axis application system. The SPM includes advanced graphical motion management software (generating NC code for the motion engine), 4-axis motion with 400 x 400 x 300 mm plasma treatment volume and modular control system architecture, capable of interfacing to other systems via network communication and/or SMEMA interface.

We also launched the new Atomflo 400S, an upgrade of its popular A400 model, which can be used as a standalone R&D tool or integrated with any motion system to automate customer’s process needs. Additional process parameters and an increased controller memory for additional stored process recipes and simplified recipe management, will result in faster tuning performance for customers.

Atmospheric pressure plasmas eliminate the need for harsh chemicals or inefficient vacuum chambers that are limited to batch processes. The Atomflo atmospheric pressure plasma generates a stream of reactive gas at low temperatures so many materials can be treated, including polymers, epoxies, metals, ceramics and glass.

Jul 23 2012

Atmospheric Plasma Heading to Taiwan


 

SEMICON Taiwan 2012 Atmospheric Plasma

Some of my colleagues are heading to SEMICON Taiwan on September 5 to 7 for a number of great opportunities to mingle with experts of microelectronics manufacturing. SEMICON Taiwan connects with the companies, people, products and information which are shaping the future of design and manufacturing for semiconductors, nanoelectronics, MEMS, Photovoltaics and related advanced electronics.

SEMICON Taiwan is one of the largest and most influential  microelectronics industry event in the region and this year is at  a new venue, the TWTC Nangang Exhibition Hall.

It’s going to be a great event for us, and will be unveiling a  full range of atmospheric plasma solutions for activating or  treatment of MEMS, semiconductors, nano electronics, photovoltaics, and other advanced electronic components.

Our founder, Dr. Robert Hicks, will be speaking at the event about atmospheric plasma surface preparation for high-volume package manufacturing during the Innvotative Technology Series.

If you are planning a  trip out to Taiwan during that time, stop on by!

Jul 12 2012

Not All Plasma Sources Created Equally


Dispensing Plasma AdhesiveAtmospheric pressure plasmas are great tools for surface treatment of materials prior to bonding, gluing, coating and other applications.

They are used in manufacturing many products ranging from stents, catheters and prosthetics for the medical device industry to large, three-dimensional composites for the aerospace industry.

Out there in the marketplace there is a bewildering array of plasma technologies for materials processing. But it’s important to recognize that atmospheric plasmas do not all perform the same way.

Not only are there multiple types of atmospheric plasma sources, but there are vacuum-based plasmas that may be used when batch treatment is convenient. In order to choose among different types, you need to know the “Figures of Merit” that govern their operation.

They are:

• Average electron temperature
• Average electron concentration
• Average neutral temperature
• Breakdown voltage
• Types of reactive gas species
• Average concentration of reactive gas species
• Remote versus direct contact with the substrate

The engineer must run tests to find out which device works best for his or her application.

Check out our application note on Atmospheric Pressure Plasma Technology by clicking here.

Jun 28 2012

Plasma Going to the Olympics?


It’s been a while.

Time just seems to be flying by right now. I find out at the end of June whether we have been selected to represent our country at the Olympic Games. It has been a very emotionally and physically testing battle over the last 2 years to gain enough points and get the right results to satisfy the criteria.

Since I spoke to you last I have been globetrotting, starting in April I have been in Brazil, Poland, China twice (Shanghai and Beijing), F

Surfx to London

rance and we finished in Prague last month where we didn’t have the greatest result in the last two years, but we do still hold the claim to the best finish that any British men’s team has ever achieved, and that came last year in Canada. Since then I have been back at the Surfx office in southern California. There are some exciting times ahead for our atmospheric plasma system and it has made for a busy schedule, with training, working and all the media commitments that are arising being so close to the Olympics.

Well I will certainly update you all once I have found out the federations decision.  Until next week!

Gregg Weaver
May 08 2012

Atmospheric Plasma On the Move


New Surfx Technologies Location Redondo Beach

The demand for our Atomflo Plasma System solutions, which directs a powerful gas beam onto components and treats them in seconds, has pushed our operational needs into a bigger space and a new location. The extra space and new location give us the opportunity to grow our services and products as the business and interest grows in our company.

The advantage of atmospheric plasmas is their ease of use, cost effectiveness, and ability to continuously treat materials of any size and shape. Furthermore, the reactive gas flows out of the plasma source and around and through complex parts, such as MEMS. The Atomflo™ is unique in that it is a particle-free plasma source, and generates significantly less particle contamination than vacuum plasmas. Our process is cleanroom compatible, particle free, and will not damage surfaces. The plasma gas flows through channels and cavities, activating all interior surfaces uniformly.

We are now at 2631 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach, California. You can still reach us on 310-558-0770 and info@surfxtechnologies.com.

0 Comments Click here to read/write comments
May 03 2012

The Beach in the Woods


The event in Poland is always a crazy one. Poland, as a country, is crazy for volleyball in general but they hold the event in the strangest place. It feels like you are in the middle of a farmer’s field in the middle of Poland. There is nothing around and then this 5000 seater stadium pops out of nowhere in the middle of a field!

It’s is definitely not the glamourous beach volleyball location that everyone thinks about, it is always cold and normally wet. Last week it was actually snowing and 0 degrees C! Luckily it warmed up to about 10C for the tournament.

We were drawn against a good team from Belarus and again new we would have to be sharp to get the job done. We came out winners 21-15 21-10. This meant we would play the 8th seeded Norwegian team, they came out firing and we battled with them all the way but ended up on the wrong end of the result. We were dissapointed with the outcome but pleased with the overall result as we had out performed all the other British teams, which helps us with our qualification for the Olympics.

We now head off to China; it will be a long couple of days for me. I leave here at 10pm Wednesday night PST and land on Thursday night at 8pm PST after transferring in Frankfurt and Denver. I then leave on Saturday at 1pm for Shanghai.

This gives me a Friday to help Surfx with our move to the new facility, which is very exciting times for us. We are growing as a company and expanded the possibilities for our customers. I will also be able to see my family which is always nice.

Until Next Time, Gregg Weaver