Monday, April 30, 2012

Press Release: Colnatec to introduce six novel products at SVC TechCon 2012

By Whitney Leonard

Colnatec announces the introduction of three new film thickness measurement systems at the 55th Annual Society of Vacuum Coaters (SVC) TechCon in Santa Clara, CA on Wednesday May 2nd.
Click here for the press release SVC 2012 (PDF)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Temperature, The Hot Commodity


By Whitney Leonard

Film thickness measurement is based on the principle that the frequency of vibration of a quartz disc decreases continuously as material is coated on its surface. So, as long as you know what the density of the film is, a process computer can calculate the thickness versus time. Sounds like a pretty easy thing to accomplish; however, there are a few things that can go wrong.

One of the most important factors that can make things go awry is temperature. Most film thickness monitors do not accurately measure, control, or correct temperature. The manuals tell you to keep it at 20°C, but don’t have a way of measuring it. The water cooling temperature is set to 20°C but it doesn’t necessarily mean it stays at that temperature during coating...in fact, we've found in our labs that temperature can vary as much as 50°C during a coating process. Without knowing exactly what temperature it is and correcting it if it’s wrong during the process, the overall film thickness readings could be inaccurate, as much as 50 Angstroms in a given layer! High temperatures and radiation spikes such as at the time the shutter source opens can also lead to an erroneous frequency reading. According to Colnatec CTO Scott Grimshaw, “Ignoring crystal temperature, and even worse, not controlling it, leads to the bulk of problems we see in quartz crystal film thickness monitoring. Noise is just one example.”

So how does Colnatec combat this temperature issue? The brilliant minds at Colnatec have created products that specifically address these issues. Our Tempe™ self-cleaning sensor head uses a heater cartridge and is capable of unlimited self-cleaning cycles, and Helios™, our sealed and heated crystal sensor housing for vapor phase depositions, is perfect for high heat environments with difficult materials, such as selenium. Our Eon™ is a PC based thin film thickness monitor with temperature measurement and heater control that provides all the necessary features of competitive products without the added cost. And, in addition to these temperature measuring and controlling hardware and electronics, we have the RC™ and HT™ crystals which can operate without instability in high temperatures.  These are just a few of the products that we will be showcasing in regards to the importance of temperature measurement next week, on May 2nd, at the Society of Vacuum Coaters (SVC) 2012 technical conference.

Look for us...we'll be the women carrying Colnatec M&Ms :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Future of OLED

By Whitney Leonard

On Tuesday April 17th, Colnatec’s Chief Technology Officer, Scott Grimshaw, attended a workshop in Washington DC put on by the Department of Energy (DOE) and Solid State Lighting Services about the production of Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) lighting. OLED lighting is a relatively new technology where you apply a thin film to a substrate such as glass or plastic and then apply electricity into these materials to make them glow.

According to Scott, this workshop was set up to figure out why the USA couldn’t cheaply make OLED lighting. More specifically, there is money to be spent on research, and the DOE needs to figure out where it should go. The goal at the DOE is to lower electricity costs for all of America, and OLED lighting would use 2/3 less power than compact florescent, making it a “clean” technology. At the beginning of the workshop, he said, no one considered that the process of making the organic LED layers or VTE (vacuum thermal evaporation) literally was a source of high expense. Scott proposed a new generation of process control systems for this VTE step in order to reduce the cost and increase yields. When asked how everyone responded to his plan, Scott replied, “At first no one got it, and then I pressed them harder and they finally got it. OLED technology is so unique a technology and requires such a broad knowledge base most people don’t have the necessary experience and background to see the whole picture and grasp all the technical elements. Fortunately, there were a handful of people at this workshop with thin film experience who had this eureka moment and said ‘oh I didn’t know this was a problem’ and at this point my job was done.”

The Department of Energy is planning to make OLED lighting a mass-market competitor in 2015, and to do so, significant advances in science and process technology are necessary. Scott identified that one of the biggest technical problems preventing OLED lighting from mass market penetration is moisture from the atmosphere ruining the light. It is an inexpensive simple light that will fade in 5 years, but Colnatec has some ideas on how to approach this issue, some of which I’ll be writing about in coming months.

After the meeting, Scott recalled, “I had two initial feelings after the meeting—1) I had achieved my goal of establishing that Colnatec’s process technology has a home in the DOE’s goal to reduce energy costs for all Americans, and 2) we are now a player at the table globally for the direction and means for this OLED technology to be achieved.”

Like Colnatec, I’m optimistic that we’ll be making an impact in OLED technology and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Women, Wine, and Wings to Soar


By Whitney Leonard:
On Tuesday night, I attended a presentation of women leaders at ASU's College of Technology and Innovation, moderated by Mitzi Montoya, the Executive Dean. As one of three panelists, Colnatec’s own Wendy Jameson provided an inspiring take on the journey to being successful. As Colnatec’s new marketing coordinator and only a year out of college her presentation was perfect for me to attend allowing me to acknowledge the potential I have before me. The most important ingredient to becoming successful is the knowledge that you already have your wings; you just haven’t learned how to fly yet. So how to do you learn how to fly? Step one, take a risk and don’t be afraid. You are going to fall a few times before you get it right, but you are never going to get it right if you don’t risk falling first. But the beauty of it is, like anything else, you have to grow into risk it doesn’t just happen overnight. You have to learn to be bold, find your voice and stand for something. You also have to remember that you can’t do it alone. So find a business partner, find a support system, something that will help pick you back up those times you do fall. And the final ingredient is trust. I’ll be the first to admit it’s hard to trust when you don’t know if things are going to work out in your favor, but you have to do it anyway. You have to trust in your partners, your products or employees, but most of all you have to trust in yourself. You have to believe you will be successful and don’t stop until you get there.