Collaborating on Advanced Ceramics and Coatings

Aug242017

Today, the need for new materials to drive performance roadmaps is ubiquitous. In the semiconductor world we live by Moore’s Law. But other industries are driven by performance and cost reduction demands for which new materials offer the best solutions. One particularly successful approach to advancing roadmaps has been for companies to connect across industry sectors to identify new materials and processes that solve their own challenges. Applied Materials has embraced this approach with its open innovation model, where value creation is collaborative and decentralized.

At first glance, a commercial jet engine seems to be very different from a semiconductor process chamber. But both semiconductor equipment and jet engines must operate reliably at high temperatures in chemically aggressive environments for thousands of hours. They need to balance cost, efficiency and performance within complex, integrated systems. Both the semiconductor and aerospace industries are also driven by intrepid roadmaps, where better performance is fundamental to growth. Coatings are increasingly important in driving these roadmaps.

To address some of these cross-industry high value problems, in 2006 Applied became the first semiconductor equipment company to join the Center for Thermal Spray Research (CTSR) at Stony Brook University. CTSR has contributed to improvements in thermal spray processes to solve challenges across several industries, especially aerospace and power generation. Applied uses ceramic thermal spray coatings in a variety of process equipment to enable improved device performance, while also extending preventative maintenance cycles. The aerospace industry similarly benefits from using ceramic coatings in jet engines to simultaneously enhance fuel efficiency and component life. The materials, hardware and supply chains shared between these industries have expedited developing new capabilities and ramping them to production.

Looking ahead, a wide array of new materials and processes are being developed to drive higher engine efficiencies, including ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), advanced environmental barrier coatings and additive manufacturing. To leverage aerospace industry research and understand our potential for contribution, Applied recently joined the United States Advanced Ceramics Association (USACA). USACA is the premier association that champions the common interests of advanced ceramic producers and end-user industries. Applied's goal is to deepen our connection with both ceramics suppliers and application developers.

In addition to CTSR and USACA, Applied is actively building relationships with university, national lab and industry groups to develop and test new ceramics and coatings technologies. These R&D collaborations are critical steps in exploring this exciting new area and uncovering opportunities for materials engineering to transform multiple industries.