Solid-state battery production

The client

Connect 2 Cleanrooms has completed a new 340m2 cleanroom facility for Ilika PLC at its 1600m2 Stereax—millimetre-scale solid-state batteries—manufacturing facility.

The cleanroom is a key element of Ilika’s new facility as it scales up Stereax, to become the first volume manufacturer of micro-batteries for next-generation MedTech and IoT in the UK.

Acting as principal contractor, C2C delivered the cleanroom facility—from order to handover—in 6 months, between February and August 2021. This schedule was achieved, despite COVID-19 restrictions and disruption, through high levels of communication and collaboration.

C2C carried out daily project management meetings with Ilika, and weekly steering group meetings with a multi-disciplinary team, to ensure all aspects of operations and process were taken care of. Plus, C2C’s Site Project Lead, gave weekly tours to Ilika’s CEO, CFO, and CSO to keep senior management up to date on the progress at the site.

Process-built layout

The new cleanroom will enable Ilika to manufacture its Stereax micro-batteries to the desired reliability, yield, and quality, to give its clients a reliable and top-quality product.

The project involved the design and build of the cleanroom, with eight zones—three main process areas and five ancillary zones—to provide segregated spaces for various process activities.

You enter the cleanrooms through an ISO class 8 changing room into the ISO class 7 dry etching zone. There are then three routes. You can then either enter into the ISO class 8 chase zone, the ISO class 6 photolithography (wet etching) zone, or through the ISO class 7 tool 1 processing zone into the ISO class 8 semi cleanroom. From the semi cleanroom, you can access the unclassified corridor and cleaning room. Some machinery crosses zones and so apertures were created to profile walls around the specialist equipment.

The batteries are created on the surface of a wafer by layering semiconductive materials in intricate patterns. Each layer is part of a step and it takes over 60 steps to achieve the exact electrochemistry. The battery needs to move back and forth between the zones, so an optimised layout was critical to achieving people and product transfer.

The cleanroom

The decentralised HVAC system controls the particle concentration in zones to achieve ISO 14644-1 classes 6, 7, or 8, according to the sensitivity of the process. A consistent temperature range of 20±1°C and a humidity range of 45%RH±10%RH is achieved throughout the classified areas, with the photolithography zone benefitting from tighter tolerances. This stringent control within defined tolerances creates a stable environment that is appropriate for the advanced materials utilised.

Part of the project scope included the supply of process vacuum, clean dry air, process gas (including helium, argon, and nitrogen), DI water distribution, and gas detection.  C2C worked with specialist contractor MicroGas, who designed the process installation to deliver the services to the critical points of production.

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