For the third year in a row, YSU has received funding by the National Science Foundation. This year, YSU received $307,422 in order to purchase a plasma etching system.
The etching system is about the size of a desk, and its purpose is to remove unwanted materials; these materials can be as hard as ceramics and metals or as soft as polymers.
“That kind of equipment is a very important piece of equipment in a research institution that focuses on materials research. It is a very important addition to our suite of research instruments because it allows us to fabricate intricate devices and to conduct investigations into the structures of materials by digging inside the materials,” said Dr. Tom Oder, who is the lead investigator of the grant.
Co-investigators of the grant include Dr. Pedro Cortes, Dr. Ruigang Wang, Dr. Virgil Solomon, and Klaus-Markus Peters, who is the General Manager at Fireline, Inc.
The plasma etching system can be utilized in research projects at all levels, from large size materials to structures that are in the micrometer or nanometer scale. Oder said that the plasma that performs the etching can be produced by various gases —such as chlorine, ammonia or oxygen — and comes down like rain, so it’s able to handle various kinds of materials.
To remove unwanted material, the plasma chemically reacts with the material, turning it into a gaseous product that is then evacuated using special vacuum pumps. The system has a robotic arm that moves samples into the etching chamber, so whoever is working does not get exposed to the dangerous gases, a feature that Oder said was unique.