SENTECH is based in the science and business district of Adlershof, a district that claims to be the "smartest neighborhood in Berlin". The medium-sized company emerged after reunification from an East-West partnership in the immediate vicinity of the former Academy of Sciences. Although the company initially started out building measuring equipment, plasma process technology gradually became its mainstay. Today, the specialist machine manufacturer has extensive experience in all processes in which surfaces are processed with the aid of plasma.

A Coating Much Thinner Than Paper-Thin

SENTECH prefers to work with inductively generated plasma. In this process, energy is transferred to a gas by means of an induction coil, which subsequently ionizes - the molecules and atoms change from a gaseous to a plasma state. In other words, they are neither liquid nor solid and are no longer gaseous, but assume a so-called non-classical state of aggregation. Plasma is a highly reactive state that can etch a surface or deposit a layer on it. Afterwards, spent substances and reaction products must be removed - again under controlled conditions. All this is done under vacuum.

"Essentially, two processes are run," according to Dr. Frank Schmidt of SENTECH. "One is the application and the other is the removal of layers. With regard to the application, there is another special process, the ALD process. That's where you control the processes very precisely and ensure that the coating takes place atomic layer by atomic layer." Atomic layer by atomic layer says it all: The coating is so thin that it consists of a single layer of atoms!

Thanks to the use of plasma, the processes do not require high temperatures but can take place at room temperature. This makes it possible to create a wide range of products without which our modern culture would be almost inconceivable. These range from microchips and lasers to sensors for smartphones that determine the position of the device, for example. Plasma process technology is also playing a major role in shaping our future: "All the solar technology visible on roofs - that would no longer be feasible without thin-film technology," explains the SENTECH expert.

Valves Play an Essential Role in Plasma Process Technology

Vacuum technology and valves are already essential in the production of plasma and surface processing. As Schmidt - a solid-state physicist - says, both the vacuum technology, in which gases are repeatedly conveyed out of the manufacturing chamber (the "reactor"), and the metering technology, in which gases are repeatedly brought into the reactor, must be precisely controlled. This requires valves that meet stringent requirements - throttle valves, shut-off valves and special valves for metering quantities.

SENTECH Instruments serves both the academic market and increasingly sells its products into mid-sized production for photonics, sensor technology and high-frequency components. Products are used across the board in research & development, as well as production. This has a consequence that also determines the choice of partner companies: The mostly modular small series systems must meet high expectations in terms of flexibility and quality, as SENTECH often makes the customer's technology possible in the first place. 


Rainer Handke, Sales Manager of VAT Deutschland GmbH, confirms that VAT always has the availability and flexibility of valve solutions for SENTECH in mind. The company sees itself as a valve partner that reliably supports SENTECH in the rapidly growing plasma process technology market. "And this, of course, while maintaining very good quality," Handke emphasizes.

SENTECH uses a wide variety of valves and relies on VAT's large product range. For example, the transfer valves of the 02.1 series, control valves of the 61.3 series and angle valves of the 29.0 series with soft-pump function, which allow particularly pressure pulse- and turbulence-free valve control, are used. Even heatable valves and transfer doors are used. "If you buy VAT, you won't go wrong," summarizes Frank Schmidt. In fact, that is all that needs to be said. There are no problems. The quality is always right and even with the parts shortage that is currently being felt everywhere, VAT stands out positively with punctual deliveries.