Challenge 1: Can you develop a new generation of intelligent materials?
We look into the future for new generations of Intelligent Materials that will react and adapt to their environment, to bring exciting new properties and applications. Such materials would be designed or molecular engineered to react to an external stimulus and change their physical properties in a defined way. Examples could include self-healing materials that can automatically repair damage at a molecular level, sensing materials that change optical or electronic properties under defined stimuli, or materials that change shape or physical appearance under environmental changes (such as light, heat, electromagnetic field, pressure, chemical interaction, and so on). We look for ground-breaking materials science, but also for innovative applications that can bring these Intelligent Materials into real world use.
Challenge 2: Can you develop advances in characterization, control and surface chemistry?
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany seeks an advance in the field of surface chemistry. There currently exists no analytical method to find nm scale or less defect on single nm ~ angstrom scale thickness film or layer on substrate, generated by surface modification, self-assembled monolayer (SAM) process, or atomic layer deposition (ALD). How can you solve this problem? There currently exists no sufficient analysis method to identify the structure of single nm ~ angstrom scale thickness film or layer on substrate or functional particle like silica or metal core particle, generated by surface modification, SAM process, or ALD. How can you solve this problem? There currently exists no sufficient analysis method to understand mechanical (hardness, thermal expansion, and so on) and chemical property (surface energy, acidity, reactivity, and so on) of the surface of single nm ~ angstrom scale thickness film or layer on substrate or functional particle like silica or metal core particle, generated by surface modification, self-assembled monolayer (SAM) process, or atomic layer deposition (ALD). How can you solve this problem?
Challenge 3: Can you develop better atomic layer processes - from modelling to materials?
Atomic Layer Etching (AlEt) and Atomic Layer Cleans (ALC)
Atomic Layer Etch (ALEt) and Atomic Layer Clean (ALC) are emerging as enabling technologies for sub-7 nm technology nodes. At these more aggressive nodes, novel 2D and III-V materials are being considered and the need for zero damage and selectivity during etch and clean processes becomes important. This would require fundamental understanding and control of the surface reactions at the atomic scale by computational (precursor design and surface interactions) and experimental methods. Enabling chemistries and novel processes would be developed as solutions for advanced integrated circuits. It is envisioned that these processes can further be exploited in other adjacent technologies such as displays, lighting, and energy.
Selective Atomic Layer Deposition (S-ALD)
Different materials will require unique ALD and ALE processes. A specific material will have to be deposited on a metal or dielectric surface selectively. This can be achieved by developing molecules with inherent selectivity and/or surface modifications using self-assembled monolayers (SAM).
Radical Assisted Thermal ALD
Development of Radical Assisted Thermal ALD (R-ALD) technology would improve the quality of the films in high aspect ratio features such as adhesion, purity, density, etch resistance, electrical properties. This approach is expected to enhance the reaction kinetics enabling the fabrication of complex 3D architectures such as 256 stack 3D NAND. This area has not been the focus of exploration in the scientific community.
Super conformal ALD
ALD is a conformal deposition technique. It is ideal for depositing liners and wrap around features. However, conformal ALD fails when trench or via need to be filled due to a seam in the middle. Super-conformal ALD preferentially deposits bottom up to make a continuous fill structure. A fundamental understanding of fluid dynamics, deposition properties, growth inhibition is needed to achieve super-conformality. Electrodeposition to enhance deposition at the bottom may help in super-conformal deposition