In this interview, Jim Mattzela from SilcoTek talks about how their anti-corrosion coatings can help address challenges in the modern semiconductor manufacturing industry.
Please can you give us a brief introduction to SilcoTek and your products
SilcoTek provides coatings that give our customers’ products, instruments, and systems advanced surface properties that typical coatings or other materials can’t. We apply our coatings via chemical vapor deposition, or CVD, so that gives us several unique advantages over your typical coating supplier.
SilcoTek coating on a metal component
What are some of the key applications that benefit from protection by SilcoTek coatings?
Our coating technology was born in gas chromatography as a way of making metal sampling equipment inert to molecules that must be measured at trace levels.
Today, our coatings are also used in oil and gas, refining, aerospace, and semiconductor manufacturing applications. Companies choose our coatings for their corrosion resistance, hydrophobicity, and other high performance properties.
What are the key challenges in the semiconductor industry that your products aim to tackle?
Like companies in any other industry, semiconductor equipment manufacturers are challenged by their customers to make systems that last longer and produce more. This means lower costs for the end user and higher profits for the supplier. Our coatings provide excellent corrosion resistance which reduces contamination, enabling smaller technology nodes.
SilcoTek’s coatings give stainless steel equipment high corrosion resistance and prevent leaching, which is critical in semiconductor manufacturing processes. Image credit: shutterstock.com/Golubovy
Do you have any examples/case studies where the use of SilcoTek coatings has enabled a certain process or innovation that wouldn't be possible otherwise?
Semiconductor equipment manufacturers usually turn to exotic alloys to fight corrosion, but these come at extremely high costs that are often unacceptable. Other coatings are prone to flaking off and contaminating yields which ends up being even more costly. Even high nickel Alloys have their own issues with specific chemistries as well as basic fabrication challenges.
SilcoTek’s coatings give stainless steel the corrosion resistance of expensive alloys while simultaneously preventing metal ions from leaching out into the process stream; a win-win for semiconductor manufacturers.
Our CVD process produces an inert silicon barrier that’s molecularly embedded into the metal substrate, so flaking isn’t a concern. Even coated bellows can be flexed without damaging the treatment.
The semiconductor industry is constantly and rapidly evolving field - what new challenges and opportunities do you see emerging in the coming years?
Moore’s Law may not hold forever, but keeping up with the always-growing demands of consumers is a constant in this industry. There’s no doubt that the technology will continue to evolve (today, it’s OLED televisions, the Internet of things, etc.), but the challenge to SilcoTek will be to help manufacturers provide it affordably.
As nodes get smaller, contamination effects from corrosion and metal ion leaching become more detrimental. Our coatings protect against these effects.
Image credit: shutterstock.com/servickuz
How will SilcoTek's products help semiconductor companies looking to address these challenges?
We’ll continue to increase their profitability and the integrity of their brands by making the products they make last longer and perform better. Our coatings enable semiconductor technology to continue to evolve.
What are SilcoTek's plans for the future? Any planned developments that you can tell us about?
As a service provider (customers send us their parts and we coat them), we are always looking for ways to ease the logistics burden on our customers. I can’t say much, but expansion is certainly in our future!
On the product front, we regularly work hand-in-hand with customers to deliver a coating that meets their needs, so innovation is never-ending.
Where can readers find more information?
Visit www.SilcoTek.com to learn more about our company and coatings. You can also read more about what we’re doing for the semiconductor industry specifically.
About Jim Mattzela
Jim Mattzela is a Materials Scientist with SilcoTek’s R&D group and is the company’s semiconductor industry expert.
Aside from new coating research and development, Jim spends most of his time working alongside semiconductor customers to help them validate SilcoTek’s coatings in new applications.
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