Hele Savin Okmetic

Okmetic enables academic research within the company with the help of Research Impact Foundation 

Hele Savin, Professor of Micro- and Nanoengineering at Aalto University, has embarked on a three-year research collaboration with Okmetic funded partially by The Finnish Research Impact Foundation. Their joint research project, titled “Contactless Characterization of Silicon Wafers” investigates whether semiconductor industry and silicon wafer suppliers could benefit from the methods originally developed for characterization of solar cells.  

During the project Savin will work at Okmetic premises for one third of her working time for three years. This allows her to gain firsthand experience in silicon wafer manufacturing, which is important when assessing the applicability of the characterization methods at various stages of the manufacturing process. Okmetic provides for the project their entire production and R&D infrastructure as well as the expertise of its specialists. “As a researcher, the project provides me a unique opportunity to immerse myself in the everyday operations of silicon wafer manufacturing. It enables me to gain a deeper understanding of the research problems that are genuinely relevant for the society – also from a commercial perspective,” Hele Savin says.  

Okmetic’s primary objective is to determine if the measurement methods can be employed for quality assurance of production wafers, and for speeding up process and product development. The main focus will be to study electrical properties of silicon wafers, for example, formation of defects during both crystal growth and wafering processes. 

The idea for this collaboration arose when Savin, who has earlier studied advanced silicon solar cells, wondered whether the measurement technology utilized in photovoltaics could find broader applications in silicon wafer manufacturing thereby benefiting the entire semiconductor industry. Therefore, it was natural to apply for funding from The Finnish Research Impact Foundation for a project that would be carried out in cooperation with a semiconductor company. The logical choice for corporate partner was Okmetic, a silicon wafer manufacturer with whom Savin has collaborated for more than 25 years. “We believe that this even closer combination of academic research and commercial production of silicon wafers will benefit both parties, and the results of the project will be used to enhance our product development,” says Atte Haapalinna, CTO of Okmetic.