What is Gas Plasma?
Plasma is a state of matter where an ionized gas becomes highly conductive to the point that electrical and magnetic fields dominate the behavior of the matter as a whole. Plasma is often referred to as the “fourth state” of matter, after liquids, solids and gases.
Plasma is an electrically neutral medium of unbound positive and negative particles. Any movement of a charged plasma particle affects and is affected by the general field created by the motion of other charges. In turn this governs collective behavior with many degrees of variation within the plasma field.
The occurrence of natural plasma on earth is limited to less than one percent of the matter present here. Examples of natural plasmas include flames, Aurora, and lightening, where examples of manmade plasmas are Flames, arc welders, fluorescent lighting, and gas plasma equipment such as those manufactured by BSET EQ.
What are it’s real world Uses or Applications?
As with other states of matter we can manipulate plasmas to work for us by using physical or chemical means. The plasma chemistry and plasma physics needed usually require a special apparatus for each application.
Plasmas can be generated at both hot and cold temperatures and the choice of gas used determines whether the plasma is chemically inert or reactive. Hot plasmas are usually generated at atmospheric pressures where cold plasmas are usually generated under vacuum conditions.
The most common application for “hot plasmas” is found in the welding or plasma cutting industries. A high temperature arc is generated to start the plasma and this arc is carefully controlled with regards to gas type and flow, and heat generated to perform the task of welding or cutting.
The most common application for “cold gas plasma” is found in the lighting industry. A vacuum tube is filled with a specific gas mixture. The gases are ionized at a high potential and when the plasma returns electrons to the covalent bonds in the atom they give off a photon. Each gas gives off its own color, so we can control the color of the light by mixing the gases in a certain ratio.
In general, BSET EQ addresses plasma applications that require “cold” plasma processes. In almost all cases treated parts can be kept at temperatures below 100 degrees C. We have developed a standard line of tools as well as many custom systems for various industries.
What are the benefits of Gas Plasma?
In general gas plasma is a replacement for wet chemistry. (Liquid processes)
Gas plasma, though often slower than wet chemical means, provides extremely fine control over the action of the chemistry or physics in any given process.
Since our gas plasma processes are carried out in a vacuum chamber, operator exposure to chemistry is almost entirely eliminated. This makes operator safety programs easier to implement. (No acid wash stations required!)
Wet chemistry produces waste and hence disposal costs to the end user. Most gas plasma applications require no disposal at all when non-hazardous gases can be harmlessly exhausted into the atmosphere. Anyone who would benefit from eliminating a wet chemical process may qualify for a gas plasma solution.
What BSET EQ Product(s) uses Gas Plasma?
Our NT series provide batch processing related to cleaning or etching using appropriate gas chemistries for the application.
Our FA series provide etching and functional delayering processes for wafer or packaged semiconductor devices.
Our Plaser Plasma decapsulation system opens chips without damage for failure analysis.