Learn how SENTECH plasma systems and metrology tools are ideal for processing advanced sensor applications.


Sensors are devices that detect and measure physical properties or changes in the environment and convert them into electrical signals. These properties can include light, temperature, pressure, humidity, motion, and more. Detection speed, efficiency, and small size make these devices highly suitable for use in many leading-edge and growing industrial applications. SENTECH systems and tools are used in key types of sensing technology including photodetectors, gas sensing and quantum sensing.


Photodetectors are devices designed to detect and measure light or photons. They convert incoming photons into electrical signals that can be processed and analysed.  Photodetectors serve as the light-sensitive component in optical sensors. When integrated into a sensor system, they enable the detection and measurement of light intensity, color, or the presence of specific wavelengths.

Gas sensing involves the detection and measurement of the presence and concentration of gases in the surrounding environment. This is crucial in various fields such as environmental monitoring, industrial safety, healthcare, and more. Sensors play a fundamental role in gas sensing by converting the physical or chemical changes associated with the presence of a specific gas into measurable signals.

Quantum sensing leverages the principles of quantum mechanics to achieve highly sensitive measurements. In the context of sensors, quantum sensing refers to the use of quantum properties to enhance the precision and sensitivity of sensing devices.

Discover more about our successful plasma etching of PbS infrared detector arrays

Lead sulphide (PbS) based semiconductor devices have been extensively used for many decades in various applications such as military missile tracking, night vision, medical imaging and thermal sensing. PbS detectors are leading the industry due to higher detection capability and

faster response over cost ratio from 1 µm to 3 µm infrared spectral range.
Due to advancements in chemical deposition methods and photolithography, the development of IR multi-element and array sensors opens a wide range of applications. Lithographic patterning and etching are of vital importance for the realisation of PbS array detectors. Normally wet etching and ion milling are used for patterning the PbS active area.
Dry etching is a superior technique and has proven to fabricate low-cost high-performance devices due to the possibility of smaller geometries with vertical sidewalls and low surface damage. In this application note, vertical etching of the PbS active area using an ICP-RIE process with good selectivity to a gold underlayer is demonstrated with the SENTECH SI 500 ICP-RIE Etch System.

A vertical profile and high etch rate with in-situ endpoint detection were achieved. A good etch selectivity to the Au underlayer is presented for the ICP-RIE of PbS detector arrays using the SENTECH SI 500 etching tool equipped with proprietary SENTECH PTSA ICP Plasma Source.
Extreme narrow ion-energy distribution at low ion-energies, independent from rf power, stable plasma at low pressures, and low plasma power are the key features for successful etching using SENTECH SI 500 system with the SENTECH PTSA Plasma Source. .

Learn about our plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition of ZnO on a 200 mm wafer

Zinc oxide (ZnO) is a well-known semiconductor material. With its wide, direct band gap of 3.3 eV and its transparent nature, it can be used for many different applications like solar cells, gas sensors or as a transparent conductive layer. In all cases, precise growth control on textured substrates becomes increasingly important. Thus, the atomic layer deposition (ALD) of ZnO using diethylzinc (DEZn) as a metal precursor attracts growing interest. ALD is a chemical method for the deposition of very thin layers. Layer growth results from a sequential, self-limiting surface reaction between two precursor materials. Therefore, conformal depositions are achieved even on complex structures. Based on many years of experience in developing and manufacturing PECVD and ICPECVD equipment, SENTECH has developed the SENTECH SI PEALD System for plasma-enhanced ALD with a true remote plasma source.  Using the SENTECH SI PEALD System equipped with SENTECH CCP True Remote Plasma Source, PEALD of ZnO was successfully deposited at a  low substrate temperature and achieved a low non-uniformity value on a 200 mm Si wafer.

Read about our successful isotropic and anisotropic etching of diamond to create tailored structures

The unique properties of diamond, such as its long spin coherence time and its ability to host nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centres, make diamond an excellent candidate for use in the rapidly developing and expanding area of quantum applications. The NV centres can be used as qubits in quantum computing and for sensing weak magnetic and electric fields. Low-damage plasma etching processes for diamond are required for the development of these technologies.


Additionally, isotropic and anisotropic plasma etching is necessary to produce tailored diamond structures for various applications.

The plasma etching of diamond using the SI 500 ICP-RIE system with PTSA ICP source has been successful in producing tailored diamond structures with high selectivity and sufficient etch rates, low roughness and low damage. These structures are useful for various quantum technology applications, such as quantum computing and quantum sensing. Anisotropic etch is suitable for thinning diamond for use in micro-mechanical systems and structuring pillars for quantum sensing. Meanwhile isotropic etch can be used to create free-standing waveguides for quantum communication. The results demonstrate the effectiveness of SENTECH plasma etching using the SI 500 in producing tailored diamond structures for quantum technologies.

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Systems and related products

Cluster Configuration for Plasma Etching and Deposition

SENTECH Cluster Tools comprise plasma etching and / or deposition modules, transfer chamber and vacuum load lock or cassette station for flexibiliy in wafer handling.

ICP-RIE Plasma Etch System – SI 500

The SENTECH SI 500 ICP-RIE high-end plasma etch system uses an inductively coupled plasma (ICP) source with low ion energy for low-damage etch and nanostructuring.