Tuesday 15 August 2017

Story of Atomic Layer Deposition by Sven Lindfors, from Picosun newsletter December 2008

”I borrowed a bottle of hydrogen sulfide and, suddenly, there was a glowing golden growth covering the glass tube. We´d cracked it: this was the theory of advanced Atomic Layer Epitaxy taking physical form in front of my eyes.” 

"Story of Atomic Layer Deposition by Sven Lindfors, Chief Technology Officer and a Member of the Board of Directors of Picosun," initially published in the Picosun newsletter December 2008. The Picosun newsletter is no longer online and the story is republished in the ALD History Blog with the kind permission by Picosun Oy. Earlier related posts were "Sven Lindfors (1945-2017) in memoriam" and "Remembering Sven Lindfors - Svenin muistolle, by Tuomo Suntola". 

Screen capture from Picosun News, December 2008. With permission by Picosun. 

“We had numerous unsuccessful test runs behind us. Dr Tuomo Suntola knew that in order to proceed, we needed to advance from using pure chemical elements to an exchange reaction based on carrier gases and sulphides,” says Sven Lindfors, at the time working as a key technician for Dr Suntola’s team.

“Previously we had decided to try with hydrogen sulphide. At first, we tried to produce hydrogen sulphide in situ by heating up sulphur in a container with hydrogen. It was not very successful. It sort of came to my mind that you might be able to get your hands on some hydrogen sulphide by borrowing it from someone. The enterprising young man that I was at the time, I wasted no time putting the idea into practice.” Sven Lindfors went to KCL Keskuslaboratorio, a research company owned by the Finnish pulp, paper and board industries. “Wood processing deals with hydrogen sulphide,” Sven explains.

KCL’s Chief of Laboratory, Mr Kaarlo A. Rainio had a small container of the precious stuff. Sven signed a “secret and unofficial” agreement stating that he will return the bottle when asked to, but will not use up all contents. The two gentlemen signed the playful agreement as a “memento of this flexible and unofficial behaviour, the contents of which shall not be revealed to the employers of either party, except under extreme duress.” The date of the agreement was August 24. 1978.

It was September 1. 1978. Sven Lindfors had attached the container to the reactor. At 13:30 p.m. he started with a single pulse of zinc chloride and a single pulse of hydrogen sulphide repeating the cycles for 20 minutes. “Suddenly there was a glowing golden growth covering the glass tube. We´d cracked it! Dr Suntola’s great vision of the advanced Atomic Layer Epitaxy was taking physical form in front of my eyes,” Sven Lindfors explains.

It took him a millisecond only to run to Tuomo Suntola’s corner office and another millisecond for the two to run back to the small laboratory containing the reactor. A rather loud moment of jubilation followed.

“The basic idea of using a carrier gas to enable the exchange reaction is still the firm basis of the Atomic Layer Deposition technology of today,” Sven Lindfors explains. That September afternoon in 1978 Sven and Tuomo Suntola were both working for Lohja Oy Electronics developing
electroluminescent display technology based on thin films.

Today, some 30 years later, Sven Lindfors is the most experienced ALD reactor designer in the world. He is Chief Technology Officer of Picosun Oy, Finnish based ALD powerhouse. “Sven seems to know intuitively what works and what does not work in ALD reactor technology. I do not know another person with the same rare qualities,” Tuomo Suntola, the inventor of the ALD technology says about his long-time friend.

Today, Sven has yet another breakthrough coming. This time his new ALD design will challenge the slow and difficult Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) production technology with a revolutionizing ALD batch-based reactor. “It is going to be extremely fast, cost efficient and easy to handle. Something completely different from the way thin film production technology has been done today,” He says.

Sven Lindfors, (born 1945)
• From 1961 to 1971, various technical development work at among others G.W.Berg Oy in Finland and Kistner Labtjänst Ab in Sweden.
• From 1971 to 1976, development and design of an automated chemical analyzer at Instrumentarium Oy / Datex Oy.
• Since 1976 technical design and testing of Atomic Layer Epitaxy reactor prototypes in Dr. Tuomo Suntola’s group.
• From 1977 to 1987 at Lohja Oy Electronics as manager of processing equipment development. Designing and managing the R&D laboratory at Olarinluoma EL-production plant.
• From 1987 to 1997, at Microchemistry Oy as project manager on building new R&D laboratory facilities and designing MC-120 ALE reactor for thin film and powder coating applications (MC-120 renamed to F-120 by ASMM).
• From 1998 to 2004, at ASM Microchemistry as Senior Design Engineer.
• Since 2004 at Picosun Oy as Chief Technology Officer and a Member of the Board of Directors.

Virtual Project on the History of ALD (VPHA) - in atmosphere of Openness, Respect, and Trust

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