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PLASMA-ENHANCED ATOMIC LAYER DEPOSITION (PE-ALD) MACHINE
Nanotechnology harnesses the energy in plasma to make ultra-thin, stable coatings that protect a surface from corrosion or wear. “This equipment uses a process called plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition, where we introduce gases continuously and at a specific temperature so they react with the surface,” says Evgeny Anisimov, a University of Calgary student and researcher with SAIT’s Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS). “It also has an advanced option called atomic layer deposition (ALD) that introduces different gases and vapours in cycles.” Says fellow researcher Suilan Chen (CLT ´14), “With each cycle the gases react with the previous layer, so we can completely enclose a surface in thousands of layers of precise, super-hyrophobic or hard ceramic coatings.”
Nitrogen, hydrogen, argon and oxygen gases can be sent into the machine’s reaction chamber, where they react with an object’s surface to build a coating.
1,100 – Lined with heating elements, the reaction chamber works as a furnace and can reach 1,100 degrees Celsius.
A tube holds the specimen. On LINK photo day, it was an industrial mixer blade being coated to repel caustic chemicals.
0.000000001 – Each layer is measured in nanometres. “Nano” means one-billionth; a nanometre is one-billionth of a metre thick.
FOURTH STATE – In physics, there are four states of matter: solid, liquid, gas and plasma. Anisimov says gases or vapours become excited by plasma and react with a surface more intensively and at lower temperatures. Here the plasma source is a mixture of argon and hydrogen, which creates a pink glow.
Purchase of the PE-ALD was made possible by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and Anisimov and Chen are working with ARIS industry partners CleanO2 and Cenovus Energy Inc.