CRADA gives small business a new market
Joint research by Ionwerks Corporation and Argonne has given this small business new market opportunities based on unique ion beam technologies for surface analysis.
The new technical development could result in better ways to make thin films for high-speed computer memories and electronic switches. The work also could improve the optical thin films that allow chips to communicate by linking them with beams of light.
The joint research focused on a sophisticated method known as time-of-flight ion scattering and recoil spectroscopy (ToF-ISARS), which is used to determine the elemental composition of a surface. Under a CRADA, Ionwerks and Argonne demonstrated that this technique can be used at the ambient pressures needed for thin-film deposition (up to several millitorr). Other methods of surface analysis can be used only at much lower pressures. Thus, the ToF-ISARS method will allow real-time, in situ monitoring and process control of thin-film deposition, resulting in higher quality films. Furthermore, the joint work showed that existing thin-film-coating machines can be retrofitted with this instrumentation, creating a new market in the technology of materials synthesis and processing.
The project also opened the way for new applications of the instrumentation. A major corporation has purchased the Ionwerks instrumentation for its research lab to aid in the development of high-tech materials for new products.
Additionally, a major aircraft engineering firm is considering using such instrumentation to monitor the deposition of thermal barrier coatings for jet engine turbine blades. The coatings improve engine performance and reduce wear, and better monitoring of the coating process can make the coatings even more effective at a lower cost.
This CRADA was supported by DOE's Office of Energy Research, Laboratory Technology Transfer Program. The research on which the CRADA was based was supported by DOE's Office of Energy Research, Basic Energy Sciences.
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