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In the field of vacuum technology I am active in developing vacuum systems and procedures for Ultra Clean Vacuum (UCV). This is used to enhance the quality and cleanliness of equipment used in the semiconductor industry. This is needed to increase yield and productivity of the tools to keep up with the demands for the shrinking of integrated circuits as depicted by Moore’s law. For this we developed cleaning technologies using for instance plasma and hydrogen radicals. This technology is applied in ASML’s Extreme Ultra Violet (EUV) lithography tools and is being introduced by other equipment manufactures.
The use of plasma to clean delicate surfaces in demanding environments is further explored in the use for cleaning the so-called first mirror of diagnostic equipment for the nuclear fusion device ITER. These mirrors are contaminated with a mixture of Tungsten, Beryllium and Carbon and have limited lifetime, whilst are required to survive for seven years in ITER. By cleaning with plasma we can recondition these mirrors to prolong their lifetime without the need of removing them from the nuclear fusion device.
Recently I started working on plasma chemistry to reduce CO2 emissions in industry to meet the climate goals on carbon footprint. Currently we are investigating the use of plasma to crack hydrocarbons for hydrogen reforming and plastic waste recycling. This new field opens up all kind of possibilities to reduce carbon footprint and come to a fully recyclable society.
Lead scientist in EU funded programs Madein4, Tapes3 and recently IT2 for development of next lithography nodes for the semicon industry. In relation to these projects I was the system architect for the realization of the EUV Beam Line 2 (EBL2) at TNO. EBL2 is a system that can illuminate samples with high intensity EUV light in controlled conditions to investigate the lifetime of optical components for EUV scanners and masks and to predict performance. This is an essential tool to further develop EUV lithography and introduce high volume production of latest generation of integrated circuits.
Since 2019 involved in the Brightsite consortium for reduction of CO2 emissions on Chemelot. This consortium consists of TNO, Sitech, Universiteit Maastricht and Brightlands material centre. Electrification of petrochemical processes instead of combustions techniques is seen as one of the ways to achieve these ambitions. Together with Universiteit Maastricht we want to establish a world class plasma research facility investigating the possibilities to reduce CO2 emissions and recycle hydrocarbons for a sustainable future.