June 26, 2006 – Engineers at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) are nearly ready to bring their nano-enabled ceramic coating material into production environments, to help resist corrosion and scratches during the semiconductor manufacturing process, according to local news reports.
The materials, unveiled last year in the Journal of Materials Research, are melted in plasma that has been heated to 15,000°C — about twice the surface temperature of the sun — and then sprayed over the surface of the semiconductor. The new AYE, AYG, and YYC materials are about 2x as hard as achievable with a mullite-zirconia or yttria-based processes, offering 10x better protection against scratching, the scientists claim. The materials also provide about the same level of protection from plasma shocks and are highly resilient to corrosive gases, reducing the chance of contamination by chlorine-based chemicals.
Seok Hyun-kwang, leader of the research team, who has received three domestic patents and applied for similar ones in the US and Japan, claims the process will be ready for adoption by the end of this year, and domestic firm Win and Win Technology Inc. has already invested in a manufacturing line for devices that can utilize the coating process.
Press reports suggest the new technology could swell Korea’s semiconductor coating market from around $30-40 million today to more than $100 million.