Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) is a specialist barrier coating technique which is being utilised by CPI to add protective layers to flexible polymer substrates. ALD gives ultra-barrier level of protection against the ingress of moisture and oxygen to flexible substrates that are used in the production of optoelectronic devices, amongst other applications.
The process can be carried out at low temperatures and can be applied to a wide range of substrates materials including polymers, glass, ceramics, metals, textiles in various forms such as wafers, sheet, rolls, pieces and even powders and particles. The substrate can be rigid, flexible, 3D with smooth, uneven or porous surfaces for example. Thin films produced using the ALD method are cost efficient, defect free and completely conformal, thus providing superior barriers and surface passivation compared with other deposition techniques. These properties make them ideal for numerous kinds of critical applications that utilise flexible films such as Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED), flexible display screens, photovoltaic cells and wearable electronics to name but a few.
The cost of conventional multilayer barrier films is typically prohibitively high for large area applications and a thin layer of inorganic barrier film produced using roll to roll ALD technology provides a feasible cost effective solution for the commercialisation of these novel applications. In addition, CPI is applying ALD to other critical device layers that benefit from the unique benefits of the process.
ALD brings a number of key advantages, which is characterised by exceptionally high levels of:
Beneq TFS 500
The first of the two systems is the Beneq TFS 500. The multi-chamber system is designed for the batch production of ALD films and can handle single substrates of up to GEN 2 size (370mm x 470mm) or 3D shapes 200mm x 200mm x 90mm.
Beneq WCS 600
The WCS 600 is a commercial roll to roll ALD system and provides a complimentary step in the scale up of batch ALD technologies. The system enables clients to scale up large area prototypes within the pilot scale manufacturing conditions needed to speed up the development of high performance barrier materials on flexible films and flexible electronic devices. The roll to roll ALD system is capable of handling films up to 600mm wide.
In addition to the systems above CPI house extensive supporting and analytical equipment for full coating and device type characterisation.
CPI is currently engaged in a number of UK and European collaborative research and development projects and has achieved the following results:
CPI is looking to expand ALD processing to further applications where nano-scale coatings are required and its unique properties can make a significant impact. Applications areas include but are not limited to the following; catalysts, fuel cells, surface sensitisation, nano-laminates/alloys, organic polymers, hybrids, biological templates (nanoscale) and particle coatings.