December 11, 2019 at 4:05 pm

Akolkar Speaks on Electrochemical Materials Fabrication

Rohan Akolkar

Professor Rohan Akolkar

By Ling Xin
NQPI Editorial Intern

At the Nanoscale & Quantum Phenomena Institute (NQPI) seminar on Dec. 5, Prof. Rohan Akolkar from Case Western Reserve University discussed two major approaches he and his students have been working on for nano-materials fabrication: atomic layer deposition (e-ALD) and atomic layer etching (e-ALE).

These approaches are critical to the semiconductor manufacturing industry, said Akolkar, who was visiting Ohio University at the invitation of NQPI member Dr. John Staser. All microprocessors and memory devices we use today have transistors and interconnects inside them. Their miniaturization will require atomic level manipulation of materials during the fabrication process. This will enable industry to achieve denser packing of the transistors and interconnects and thus achieve high performance nano-electronics, Akolkar said.

The e-ALD approach, a surface-controlled electrochemical process that aims at the deposition of thin films one atomic layer at a time, has been widely studied for the past two decades. However, different from the conventional e-ALD processes, Akolkar’s process offers many attractive features: high throughput, environmental benignity, and great versatility in terms of metals, non-metals and alloys which can be deposited.

The e-ALE approach, on the other hand, is very new. It utilizes similar concepts of self-terminating reactions to achieve atomic-level precision in etching. Such a process is highly sought after by the industry. Akolkar said his team is still working toward a better fundamental understanding of the e-ALE process, which hopefully will be developed into a more mature technique in the future and would complement e-ALD.

Atomically precise materials manipulation also has important implications for designing future electrochemical reactors and systems, he said. His lab plans to focus future activity in this area.

Akolkar said this was his second visit to OHIO and the first time to be a speaker hosted by NQPI. The Physics & Astronomy Department impressed him, in terms of both its faculty and students. He looks forward to establishing more collaborations with OHIO researchers in the near future.

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