Alumnus Publishes Book on Plasma Etching

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Sebastian Engelmann (Ph.D. '08, materials science and engineering).

Department of Materials Science and Engineering alumnus Sebastian Engelmann (Ph.D. '08), formerly advised by Professor Gottlieb Oehrlein, has published his first book, Plasma-Surface Interactions of Advanced Photoresist Systems. The work, based on his research at the Laboratory for Plasma Processing of Materials at the A. James Clark School Engineering, discusses improved methods of nanostructure manufacturing using plasma etching technology. Engelmann was approached to publish the book by VDM Verlag, which specializes in making dissertations available to a wider audience.

Plasma-Surface Interactions of Advanced Photoresist Systems addresses manufacturing problems that may occur when plasma is used to etch patterns onto materials that will subsequently become semiconductor or other devices. The pattern is set into a photoresist, a sort of template or stencil that sits above the surface of the device material, and determines where the plasma is allowed through to interact with it. During the course of his research, Engelmann studied breakdowns in the photoresist layers that roughened the lines and edges of semiconductor patterns, resulting in defective products. The book explains how the properties of very complex interactions of plasmas and photoresist materials can be adjusted to ensure a successful transfer process.

"Depending on the material that you want to transfer your features onto, the plasma needs to be fine-tuned for the desired outcome," Engelmann explains. "For nanoscale manufacturing, increased attention also has to be given to how the chemically reactive photoresists change their behavior and material properties during processing, depending on the plasma condition."

Engelmann hopes his book will inspire advances in nanoscale manufacturing, both in established areas such as semiconducting devices, and in new areas to which the technology can be applied, such as biosensors.

"I guess the best and the worst thing about writing a book are the same as writing a dissertation," Engelmann said of his first experience as a book author, "—you have to do it on your own! You can write things your own way, but on the other hand you don't have the help your professor would give you. And instead of getting feedback [from readers] about your work from the committee right after the defense, you'll have to wait until someone buys the book or leaves a comment on Amazon."

Engelmann is currently working in the Reactive Ion Etching Group in the Department of Advanced Materials and Process Science in the IBM Research Division at the T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Although he has no immediate plans to write a second book, he’s not ruling out the possibility: "We are working on really exciting projects here [at IBM] and I think we are close to something spectacular. In my job I discover a lot of new things on a daily basis, so you never know what will come out of it!"

Plasma-Surface Interactions of Advanced Photoresist Systems can be ordered from

For More Information:

Visit Professor Oehrlein's Laboratory for Plasma Processing of Materials web site »

Published November 3, 2009