Hidden in Plain Sight: Thin Films
Posted December 03, 2013 by Dave Christie
Thin films are amazing. They can change the properties of surfaces in dramatic and wonderful ways. Maybe you are involved in the thin-film industry, as I am. Have you ever tried to describe to your friends, neighbors, family, even co-workers, what you do, or what thin films are, or what they are used for? When I add the concept of vacuum coating, it gets even more interesting. “Vacuum cleaners? So you work with vacuum cleaners?” No, not vacuum cleaners. The fact is that we in the thin-films industry do things that are invisible to most people. Invisible and secret. Important and pervasive. Very thin – in some cases, we speak of multiple monolayers or tens of monolayers. And with amazing properties. Lower friction. Impervious to oxygen. Reflect heat and transmit visible light. Conductive and transparent. Converting light to electrical power. Catalytic, self cleaning.
At Advanced Energy, we provide power to vacuum coating, etching, and cleaning processes. I’ve been in the thin-films industry, and at Advanced Energy, for over 18 years now. It’s been an amazing journey. I joined as a staff engineer focused on developing technology and products for magnetron sputtering applications. As I learned more about the field, my fascination with the applications of our products led me to pursue a PhD and research in applications. Today, I serve as director, applications technology, in our Thin Films business unit. Every year, I learn about new applications of thin films. New ways that they change the properties of surfaces. New opportunities in business resulting from ideas, research, hard work, and persistence.
At Advanced Energy, our contribution is process power. Not just raw power. Controlled, precise, shaped power. Delivered to the process. Managed power. Things happen in the process, things like arcing. The power supply has to deliver power, and respond to manage the process when things like arcs or impedance excursions happen. That is our passion. Providing power to your processes, to enable you to create the next exciting thin-film product.
Look for our next post, on December 17. Our applications team will be digging into power for thin-film processes and other interesting subjects. Until then, enjoy your journey into the holiday season.