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Posted: Sep 13, 2010
Altatech Semiconductor's Inkjet Printing System Selected for Developing Flexible Electronics
(Nanowerk News) To further enable its research in direct-write printing of micro- and nanoscale electronic devices, the Italian Institute of Technology's (IIT) Center for Nanoscience and Technology has purchased a JetLabŪ 4xl-A maskless nanoprinting system from equipment supplier Altatech Semiconductor S.A. The system will be installed at IIT's facility in Milan by the end of November.
IIT and other European research centers are racing to develop a reliable, cost-effective process for printing nanoscale arrays of metallic, conductive ink droplets to produce smaller, faster-switching semiconductor transistors for next-generation flexible electronics. Dr. Mario Caironi, team leader at IIT's Center for Nanoscience and Technology, was the lead author of a research paper on this subject published earlier this year by the American Chemical Society. Altatech Semiconductor's inkjet-based patterning technology provides the high resolution, high patterning yield and ability to print on non-planar, non-rigid substrates that will be needed for volume manufacturing of flexible electronics.
"JetLab's single-droplet precision, combined with complex print job definition management through convivial software, enables us to do scalable patterning of nanotechnology devices," said Dr. Caironi. "It's a vital tool in our research activity."
The JetLab 4xl-A nanoprinting system is capable of operating at low processing temperatures of less than 70° C. This makes it compatible with flexible plastic substrates and the sensitive molecular stability of many advanced nanomaterials including carbon nanotubes, graphene, inorganic nanowires and organic semiconductors.
Prior to placing this order, IIT conducted extensive tests of the system's unique piezoelectric-enabled microdispensing technology, developed by Altatech Semiconductor's U.S.-based strategic partner MicroFab Technologies, Inc. The proprietary nozzle design enables picoliter droplets of conductive ink to be deposited with a positioning accuracy of 25 microns. In addition, the JetLab platform can achieve placement repeatability within 5 microns across a printable area of 210 mm by 260 mm. Using this highly precise deposition technology and a technique recently developed by Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, U.K., JetLab can define electrode gaps of 100 nm to 500 nm while tightly controlling the volume of material deposited per droplet and the spread of material on the substrate.
"As an additive printing technology, inkjet-based patterning offers the advantages of process simplification, layer-to-layer alignment, compatibility with large-area processing and potential cost reductions compared to subtractive approaches such as electron-beam lithography or nanoimprinting," said Jean-Luc Delcarri, president of Altatech Semiconductor.
About IIT's Center for Nanoscience and Technology
The Center for Nanoscience and Technology operates at the forefront of science and technology of nanomaterials for optoelectronics, focusing on applications in photovoltaic conversion, photo-detection, and biomimetic systems. In the fields of smart materials and energy, the Center aims at being a national stronghold in the frontier research on nano-opto-electronics as well as on related technologies in order to contribute to the development of the high-tech industry of Italy.
About Altatech Semiconductor S.A.
Incorporated in 2004, Altatech Semiconductor manufactures nanoprinting, liquid-vaporization CVD, and wafer inspection and analysis equipment at its headquarters facility near Grenoble and France's epicenter of microelectronics production. Led by a management team with more than 30 years of experience in the semiconductor equipment industry, the company is focused on helping customers to achieve the fastest design-to-market cycle times for products serving the emerging semiconductor, MEMS and nanotechnology markets.