Objectives and Impact
The main objective of the Action is to make optimal use of new Highly Ionised Pulse Plasma (HIPP) processes through a greater understanding of the physics of HIPP processes and a development of improved products by superior HIPP coatings. Enhanced properties like increased hardness, density, refractive index, better adhesion, modified crystal structure, and much more can be realized, as shown by Academia and will be transferred to industry, since also industrial partners are involved. By joining knowledge and resources a new generation of deposition processes will be established with benefit for nearly all technical branches due to the cross sectional character of thin film technology.
The Action goal shall be achieved through the secondary objectives in the following areas:
Objective 1: Superior Coatings Properties
- Due to the high ion concentration in HIPP processes the properties of the coatings can be modified or even tailored by the process parameters. This objective focuses on gaining a better understanding of the physics of the HIPP processes and the realisation of improved coatings. These coatings can then be used in applications with increased wear resistance, lifetime, reliability, etc. For instance it was shown, that the wear resistance of CrN coatings could be improved by an order of magnitude using High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering HiPIMS compared to improved state of the art technology.
Objective 2: Increased Deposition Rate
- Since by now it is known, that in many cases the deposition rate in HIPP processes is reduced compared to traditional processes, the major benefits are the superior film properties. Besides the improvement of the coating properties an important task for industrial introduction of the HIPP processes will be the improvement of the deposition rate. For instance an increase of deposition rate for alumina coatings is reported: 0.4 µm/h (conventional radio frequency sputtering - rf), 2 µm/h (today state of the art reactive medium frequency sputtering – mf), up to 12 µm/h (reported in scientific paper for Modulated Pulse Power MPP). Thus the process time can be reduced by a factor of 12 or 30, for transition from mf or rf processes, respectively, saving expensive production time. For specific arrangements and modifications an increase of the deposition rate combined with the improved film properties is possible. This combination will lead to an economical application of the new high-performance coatings.
Objective 3: Advanced and Improved HIPP-Generation
- For the industrial realisation of the HIPP processes further improvement and adjustment has to be performed concerning the pulse generation. Today the upgrade of an existing sputtering plant with HIPP technology is connected with high service time due to optimisation and adjustment of the electrical parameters to get the processes running. Therefore close collaboration and feedback to companies building power supplies has to be realised.
Objective 4: Theoretical Simulation and Experimental Verification
- With a better understanding of the HIPP processes the generation of theoretical models will be a further goal. Using advanced solutions like multi scale simulations a theoretical prediction of the outcome could be realized, saving lot of expenses due to drastically reduction of experimental investigation using the cost extensive coating systems. The results will be verified by experiments and thus will lead to a feedback loop for improving the simulations.
- Novel and improved plasma power generators for HIPP applications; additionally usable for improved pulse plating processes in electrochemistry.
- Novel process technology for improved sputtering plants and coating equipment for coatings with superior properties.
- tribological improvement in many areas (e.g. automotive, railroad, aerospace) leading to reduced fuel consumption and CO2-emission, increased lifetime, and improved reliability
- Improvement and novel approach for thin film solar cells for green power generation by improved conducting properties for transparent conductive films (e.g. photovoltaics)
- Products with improved chemical resistivity (e.g. electrical interconnectors)
- Improved wear and corrosion resistance (e.g. off-shore energy harvesting)
- improved scratch resistance (e.g. glasses)
- improved refractive index (e.g. filters and optical components)
- improved coatings for implants and surgery instruments (e.g. hip implants, cardiac pacemaker)
- improved adhesion of coatings; increased wear resistance and tool lifetime (e.g. tools)
- New and extended functions of surface integrated thin film sensors (e.g. smart bearings)
- Flat panel displays on flexible (polymeric) substrates (e.g. navigation systems)
Since the basis of all fields of applications is the cross sectional technology of vacuum coating another objective is the sharing of expertise of clusters working on similar coating systems. By the exchange of knowledge of experiences made on similar technological field multiplication of errors can be avoided and an effective task oriented development is fostered.
Expected scientific benefits of the proposed Action will be a fundamental understanding of the physics behind HIPP processes. Especially the sharing of resources and expertise will be unique and impossible to achieve for single partners. Based on the understanding of the underlying physics of HIPP processes, technological benefits concerning industrial equipment will be:
The industrial benefits of the Action in several products using superior HIPP coatings will be:
Societal impact of the activity will be by novel and improved products, e.g. implants, smart prosthesis, intelligent products, improved security. Benefits of the COST Action will therefore strengthen the position of Europe resulting in growth of companies, extension of existing or evaluation of new markets and creation of new jobs, especially in the situation of growing competition with Asia. Furthermore the scientific network will be a strong contribution to the European policy to achieve a knowledge-based society.
The Actions objectives will be achieved through networking of internationally recognized researchers from different areas of application from at least 14 European countries including several new member states, all committed to the goal of this Action. This COST Action will furthermore stimulate the transfer of knowledge from Academia to industry by including specialists from industry from generator and plant manufacturing companies in the consortium for task oriented discussions and investigations.