What Is Magnetron Sputtering?


Sputter deposition or magnetron deposition is a method by which coating of thin film takes place using sputtering technology. The process involves sputtering of the target material onto the film or a substrate. During this procedure, atoms released from the target source exhibit wide energy distribution. Released ions from the target material (typically a small fraction) fly in a straight line onto the source material impacting with high energy. Introduction of high-pressure gas into the chamber makes the ions to move diffusively and condense after a time. The gas here acts as a moderator.

It is possible to control the entire act of high-energy impact to low energy thermal controlled motion by changing the gas pressure in the chamber. Inert gases are widely used under this procedure. To create an effective momentum, selecting the gas close to the atomic weight of the target is feasible. With the help of reactive gases, it is possible to create sputter momentum of a compound. By controlling the parameters, it is possible to create the compound on the target or in-flight motion. As there are many tedious parameters, the process of sputter makes it a complex procedure to implement. However, this does not stop in giving complete control to an expert in creating a fine micro-structured film.

Magnetron sputter deposition is extensively utilized in integrated circuit preparation. It helps a manufacturer deposit thin films of different materials for a circuit. The easiest example of a sputter is the anti-reflection coating found on a glass. Due to control over the temperature, it is possible to deposit metals as a thin film for transistors. Another best example where sputtering is used extensively is tool manufacturers. It is easy for them to coat various materials on a tool that increases efficiency, performance and life. Fabrication of DVD’s and CD’s is another example that uses magnetron sputtering.

In order to execute magnetron sputter, high power density should be delivered in short pulses at low duty cycle for tens of microseconds. The process is more stable in comparison to other sputtering methods. As the duty cycle is low, the power remains low and enables the target material to cool during “off-time”. The process finds best usage in pretreatment of substrate and deposition of films on microstructure density. For depositing films on mechanical components, pretreatment under plasma environment is essential. The required substrates are exposed to plasma and influenced to over 100 volts of voltage. Due to this action, any presence of contamination is removed from the substrate. As the process uses high voltages, it is essential to use suppression and arc detection technology. Installing dedicated DC bias system for substrate is the best option to maximize surface etch percentage.

Magnetron sputtering is a technological revolution that is helping many industries coat film on various products. Due to its consistent sputtering of target material on the source or substrate, the mechanism is highly adaptive in different fields for various products. Research in this field will only improve further the mechanism to achieve more consistent outputs.


Source by R. Naz

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