Scientist from the Fraunhofer IST honored with the SVC Mentor Award 2023
Dr. Andreas Pflug from the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST was presented with the “Mentor Award” at this year’s conference of the Society of Vacuum Coaters (SVC TechCon 2023) in recognition of his outstanding achievements in the field of plasma-process simulation. With the award, which has been presented annually since 2001, the SVC acknowledges exceptional contributions towards the development of vacuum coating technology or services to society.
The simulation of processes enables feasibility and optimization studies to be carried out with minimal initial experimental effort and coating processes to be developed more efficiently and precisely. By means of simulations it is possible, for example, to predict the dynamics of plasma processes, the coating thickness distribution or the stoichiometry in 3D geometries and, simultaneously, to save time and costs. Andreas Pflug, who has been working at the Fraunhofer IST since 2000 and has headed the “Simulation & Digital Services” group since 2008, developed a simulation environment for low-pressure transport phenomena which has contributed towards an improved understanding of magnetron sputtering processes in particular. He was thereby responsible for the elaboration of the entire architecture - from the scripting language, through the parallelization concept and a so-called plasma-wall model, and on to the utilization concept. Together with his team, the physicist further developed the basic version of the simulation software “Direct Simulation Monte Carlo” into “Particle-in-Cell Monte Carlo” (PIC-MC), with which plasmas in arbitrary plant geometries can be modeled in a spatially and temporally resolved manner, and through which the fundamental understanding of vacuum processes has been significantly advanced. Today, the PIC-MC software is used by industrial partners at international level.
At the Fraunhofer IST, the simulation environment and the associated expertise are utilized in a variety of ways. The main application thereby is the modeling of process dynamics in diverse facilities or as a component of a multi-scale simulation from the process through to atomistic layer growth. Furthermore, the software is used to generate training data for digital twins, is used in simulation studies contracted by industry, and is licensed to users or used for training purposes.