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The ambient processing cluster tool is a custom-built glovebox cluster tool that integrates different vacuum as well as liquid-based deposition technologies for a wide range of functional materials into a common inert glove box atmosphere. It comprises ten glove box modules that are interconnected by a semi-automated inert atmosphere transfer system and includes tools such as thermal evaporation, sputtering, pulsed laser deposition (PLD) and atomic layer deposition (ALD) as well as aerosol printing, screen printing and slot-die coating. The tool also includes modules for metrology, thin film encapsulation and packaging. The tool gives access to a wide range of functional materials, including transition metal oxides for battery and other applications, organic and hybrid organic-inorganic semiconductors, two-dimensional materials, polymer composites etc.

Its unique configuration allows integration of these different classes of materials into novel hetero-architectures and but also fabrication of a wide range of devices including solar cells, batteries, mechanical or thermoelectric energy harvesters as well as integrated energy systems for energy–efficient ICT applications.

If your research interests require controlled deposition of any of the above materials or you would like to combine functional materials in novel ways and have any questions on the tool’s capabilities please contact the academic lead Professor Henning Sirringhaus ( ) or the technical lead Mr Steve Haws ( ) in the Department of Physics.

There are currently nine process modules that comprise the following:

Q. A. Battery Module: PLD, evaporator, and DC/RF sputterer

This module supports deposition of sputtering of battery electrodes and solid electrolytes. With multi-source target arrays, metals and metal oxides can be deposited to form, for example, lithium ion batteries and supercapacitors. It can quickly achieve base pressure of 5 x 10-7 mbar and enables deposition of relatively thick films of transition metal oxides for cathodes and solid-state electrolytes. The module is run under an argon atmosphere.

The PLD system has single and twin beam operation, thermal ramp of substrates up to 20 °C/min to 500 °C and 10 °C/min from 500 to 1000 °C, and has six locations for 1 inch diameter, 6mm-thick targets. The system can achieve up to 4 J/cm2 laser fluence with 20 nm pulses, 28 MW power per pulse, maximum power of 700 mJ, and pulse repetition rates of up to 10 Hz. Process recipes can be programmed to allow automated running of processes. The evaporator can accommodate a wide range of materials due to a PID-controlled source temperature up to 1200 °C, and has an integral link to the sputterer to enable sequential operations without breaking vacuum. The sputterer is for deposition of metals and transition metal oxides for battery construction, with two DC and RF sputter target positions.

Specifications: Battery Module

Configuration: Single and Twin Beam
Fluence: Up to 4J/cm2
Pulse Time: 20ns
Pulse Power: up to 28 MW
Maximum Energy: 700mJ
Pulse repetition: up to 10 Hz
Substrate Size: Maximum 10 x 10mm
Substrate Temperature: Up to 1,000 degC
Temperature Ramp Rate: up to 20 degC/min to 500 degC, then 10 degC/min to 1,000 degC
No. of Target Locations: 6
Target thickness: 6mm
Automation: Programmable for automated running


Q. B. Coating 1 Module: High-resolution screen printer

This affords high resolution and high precision patterning of pin-hole free patterns to support the definition of device structures on a range of substrates, including glass and plastic film. This includes multiple-print processes, stacking, wet-dry, dry-wet and limited micro gap printing. Many different base substrates can be printed on, including ceramics, silicon wafers, foils and paper.