Greg Daly

Department: College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences
Discipline: Physics and Astronomy
Research Centre/Unit: Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing CDT

Project Summary

One of Oxford Instruments’ key technologies is surface modification by plasma processing, which utilises plasmas of different chemical compositions to deposit onto and etch surfaces in a controlled manner – this is the method by which the majority of the world’s semiconductor devices are manufactured. This technology is at the heart of the PlasmaPro device range. Development of this technology and product relies on a detailed understanding of the physics of the plasma and chemical kinetic reactions, with reproducibility and control of the process being key customer issues. Sustainability issues are also important, with a push to reduce the use of greenhouse and ozone-damaging gasses in the process  such as SF6.


The project will apply physics-based and data-based modelling techniques to model a range of the processes in the PlasmaPro 100 device across a range of scales, from localised processes in the plasma sheath and feature-scale simulation to whole-system modelling. Physics-based modelling will include continuum mechanics modelling of flow and reaction using OpenFOAM, and potentially kinetic theory calculations using OpenFOAM and other open source codes. The data-based modelling will apply techniques from AI and Machine Learning such as Supervised and Reinforcement learning, working in conjunction with the physics-based modelling and with experimental data. One target for the project will be to create AI-based control software to manage complex aspects of the plasma environment to enable machine learning based process development.