Electrochemical Materials and Energy

High conductivity electroplated Copper nanotubes
High conductivity electroplated Copper nanotubes

Electrochemical materials with specific relevance to the microelectronics industry has been investigated at Tyndall for more than 18 years. R&D is based on the use of electrolytic and electroless deposition of materials for ICT applications such as interconnect, barrier layers and ohmic contacts. An extension of this processing is the microfabrication of electrochemical microenergy devices such as micro batteries and micro fuel cells.

Electrochemical deposition is a lower cost option than vacuum based systems for materials processing. In combination with advanced lithographic processing the technique is also selective which has cost implications and simplifies processes by minimising the number of steps. Electrochemical deposition may be classified as either electrolytic or electroless. In the first case an external power supply provides the driving force for the deposition and a conductive seed layer is required to achieve deposition.

Lithographic processing of substrates or template fabrication is utilised to achieve selective deposition. Electroless deposition does not require the use of a blanket electrically conductive seed layer and the metal deposition is achieved by reaction between the metal ion and a chemical reducing agent at a reactive substrate. We develop lithographic processes to achieve the desired patterning for selective deposition. The institute has dedicated lithography tools in a class 10 cleanroom and a large suite of deposition and characterisation equipment for advanced materials processing. A variety of substrate materials are processable including metals, ceramics, polymers, semiconductors and compound semiconductors.

Examples of the novel processing performed include interconnect, barrier and ohmic contact materials deposition for micro/nano electronics applications. In addition the development of novel catalyst and energy storage materials for micro fuel cells and micro batteries, respectively, has recently been achieved.  The images show a recent demonstration of Cu nanotube formation by controlling the additive content in a typical copper plating bath and a schematic of the process. A nanoporous Au catalyst formed in an alumina template is also shown. These materials have high surface area and are catalytically active for  use in novel energy devices or sensor applications.


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