Master's thesis with sustainable impact - Interview with Jennifer Goldbrunner

Methodology of Life Cycle Assessment using the example of a comparative analysis of three film coating processes.

Jennifer Goldbrunner wrote her master's thesis at Fraunhofer EMFT on a highly topical and relevant subject. She focused on the comparative life cycle assessment of different microelectronic metallization processes on flexible substrates.

The aim was to identify the differences in environmental impacts between and within the metallization processes, as well as the causes of these differences. Using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, the potential environmental impacts of the processes on the three protection categories of human health, ecosystems, and resources (endpoint analysis), as well as global warming (midpoint analysis), were assessed.

In the evaluation of the Life Cycle Assessment, it was found that the subtractive etching process exhibited the highest potential environmental impacts at the endpoint level, while the semi-additive process showed the highest potential impacts on global warming. The LEO technology developed at Fraunhofer EMFT did not exhibit the highest environmental impacts in any of the analyzed categories. Copper and electricity were identified as the factors that most strongly influence the life cycle assessment of the three examined metallization processes.

The results of Jennifer's thesis contribute to identifying improvement potentials of the metallization processes in terms of environmental impacts.

Jennifer Goldbrunner, Master student at Fraunhofer EMFT
© Fraunhofer EMFT | Elisa Göbel
Jennifer Goldbrunner, Master student at Fraunhofer EMFT

Hello Jennifer, please introduce yourself briefly.

Jennifer: Hi, I'm Jennifer and I'm studying Master's in Sports Technology with an additional focus on Sustainability at the University of Bayreuth. I wrote my master's thesis here at Fraunhofer EMFT.

What interested you about the topic "Life Cycle Assessment of Film Coating Processes"?

Jennifer: During my studies, I had some exposure to the methodology of ecological assessment, including Life Cycle Assessment. I found it fascinating that there are methods to analyze the environmental impacts of products and services. During my semester abroad, with a focus on materials science, I learned about structuring processes like photolithography, which captivated me. When I came across the topic at Fraunhofer EMFT, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to combine both areas of my studies and delve into practical application.

Which aspects of sustainability did you investigate and how did you proceed?

Jennifer: In my investigation, I primarily focused on aspects of ecological sustainability. I collected extensive data on the processes, such as material and energy flows, which I gathered from experts in the field and through previous master's theses. I then used the collected data to conduct a detailed life cycle assessment using life cycle assessment software.

What challenges did you encounter in your research and how did you overcome them?

Jennifer: In my work, the biggest challenge, in my opinion, was obtaining information about the products used in the processes. The exact composition of these products is often not publicly available and is subject to trade secrets. Examples of this are the chemicals used in electroplating or the photoresist. In these cases, assumptions had to be made based on extensive literature research and discussions with experts in order to determine the compositions of the products at least partially. I hope that in the future, manufacturers will become more open in providing information about such products.

Were you involved in a research project with your work?

Jennifer: Yes, the work was part of the collaborative project GreenICT@FMD, a funding project by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). We even had the opportunity to present a poster on the topic at the GreenICT Connect conference in Berlin.

Do you have a message for students who want to do their master's thesis at Fraunhofer EMFT? Would you recommend them to focus on life cycle assessments of processes in electronics development?

Jennifer:  I highly recommend Fraunhofer EMFT. I had a lot of freedom to explore my own ideas and approaches during the creation of my master's thesis. At the same time, I received excellent support in collecting data on the processes. Everyone was very open to it, and in the end, I even had the opportunity to conduct a workshop on life cycle assessment to introduce the topic to interested staff members at the institute.


Thank you for the insightful interview. We wish you all the best for your future and success in all your future endeavors.

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