Many exotic materials or materials with special properties are processed using extreme temperature and pressure often with toxic starting materials. In semiconductors, molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) to build single crystal structures and sputtering are common methods of physical deposition to deposit thin films. Both are done using a very high vacuum. MBE heats the atomic materials until they sublimate and land on the desired surface. Sputtering uses a gas plasma to knock a few atoms of material off a “target” and onto the desired surface. There are also different chemical deposition processes including electroplating which uses metal salts dissolved in a solution bath, chemical vapor deposition (CVD) which uses high vacuum, and atomic layer deposition (ALD) which is similar to CVD but uses two half-reactions of gas phase precursors.
Limitations imposed by extreme temperature, extreme pressure, and toxic materials combined with a typically slow deposition rate make it is difficult to economically run these processes on an industrial scale for high volume manufacturing. But what if there was a process that Read the rest of this entry »