Although an impressive arsenal of both experimental and numerical tools has been developed, significant gaps in understanding and lack of instrumentation limit progress.The broad interdisciplinary nature of plasma processing is highlighted in the discussion of education issues outlined in Chapter 5, which addresses the challenges and opportunities associated with providing a science education in the area of plasma processing.The critical role of plasma processing technology in industry is illustrated in Chapter 2.
For example, graduate programs specifically focused on plasma processing are rare because of insufficient funding of university research programs in this field.
By contrast, both Japan and France have national initiatives that support education and research in plasma processing.
This study focuses on the plasma processing of materials, a technology that impacts and is of vital importance to several of the largest manufacturing industries in the world.
Foremost among these industries is the electronics industry, in which plasma-based processes are indispensable for the manufacture of very large-scale integrated (VLSI) microelectronic circuits (or chips).
However, the United States is seeing a serious decline in plasma reactor development that is critical to plasma processing steps in the manufacture of VLSI microelectronic circuits. : The demand for technology development is outstripping scientific understanding of many low-energy plasma processes.
The central scientific problem underlying plasma processing concerns the interaction of low-energy collisional plasmas with solid surfaces.
: In recent years, the number of applications requiring plasmas in the processing of materials has increased dramatically.
Plasma processing is now indispensable to the fabrication of electronic components and is widely used in the aerospace industry and other industries. economy and national defense, renewed support for low-energy plasma science is imperative.
Nonetheless, fundamental studies of surface processes and plasma phenomena—both experimental and numerical—have contributed to process development by providing key insights that enable limitation of the broad process-variable operating space.
The state of the science that underpins plasma processing technology in the United States is outlined in Chapter 4.