Intel Ireland will be involved in the Low-Pressure Processing Research Programme.The problems facing the semi-conductor processing industry are of central concern to Intel Ireland, and Intel corporately. Intel Ireland’s engagement with this programme is known to Intel’s central research facility in the U.S.A., and is endorsed by them. There is, therefore, a mechanism for the results of this project to influence Intel’s practice on a world scale. This influence is likely to be in the area of process monitoring and process management. Therefore, Intel’s engagement will be concerned with both the development of sensor hardware, and the use that is made of sensor data for process control and process management. Sensor hardware developed in previous DCU programmes has been deployed to Intel’s site at Leixlip, and has been instrumental in resolving certain issues there. Intel will support the low-pressure processing activity by seconding a Research Engineer to the project, by contributing cash, which will be used to engage additional staff on the project, and by contributing materials, such as wafers, to facilitate the processing elements of the experimental work. The Research Engineer (MacGearailt) has wide experience in the practicalities of plasma processing on a large scale, and his experience will greatly add to this element of the project.
Impedans is a vendor of electrical diagnostic hardware. Their interest in this project arises from their desire to add new products to their range, and to enter new market areas, such as atmospheric pressure plasmas. Since Impedans is located on the DCU campus, day-to-day engagement is straightforward. Impedans will engage with the Electrical Diagnostics task of the Fundamentals Research Programme. They will second a research engineer (O’Sullivan) for one day a week to support this activity, and they will make a small cash contribution, which will be used to support the running of this research programme.
Straatum is a vendor of process control solutions. They are interested in the possibility of closed-loop control of plasma processes, and they will engage with the Control Methodology task of the Low-Pressure Processing Research Programme. Their contribution will be to second a research engineer (Carbery) to the project for one day per week.
Holfeld Plastics is primarily interested in developing high-performance packaging products. Their interest in this project arises from the possibility of producing such products using atmospheric pressure plasmas, and their special interest is in anti-oxidant coatings for food packaging. Therefore, their engagement will be through the Atmospheric Pressure Processing Research Programme, and especially the Anti-Oxidant Coating task. They will support this programme by seconding a Research Engineer for 50% of their time, and by supporting a postgraduate student. They will also support the project with cash, some of which will be used for specialist characterisation services not available at DCU or UCD, and for upgrading an optical profilometer.
Proxy Biomedical develops biomedical devices, especially various types of implants to support reconstructive surgery and other tissue repairs. Such products must have high quality biocompatible surfaces, and the capability of applying coatings with good biocompatible qualities is very important. Proxy Biomedical will therefore engage with the Atmospheric Pressure Processing Research Programme, and especially those elements that are concerned with coating technology, and understanding the surface properties that facilitate biocompatibility.
EnBio is a start-up company with an interest in applying special coatings to biomedical devices. Their (non-plasma) proprietary technology can be used to apply such coatings at room temperature. Non-thermal plasma technology is an obviously complementary approach, which might be used synergistically with EnBio’s approach. EnBio will donate a processing platform to the project, so the coatings produced by their technology can be compared with those produced by plasma processing, and so that the possibility of combining process steps using different approaches can be explored, if this seems desirable. This engagement will be through the Atmospheric Pressure Processing Research Programme, and particularly the Plasma Surface Modification task. The cash element of Enbio’s contribution will be used to support specialist characterisation surfaces.
In addition to these interactions with the companies through the research programme, we will also organize regular events to promote interaction with the companies and to spread knowledge of the research programme through the companies. These will include Plenary Sessions, at least once every six months, with at least one per year to be held outside Dublin, where formal presentations on cluster activities will be made, and Industrial Access Days, open to companies other than the partner companies, which will be in part a vehicle for expanding the industrial participation.