The Basics of Sputtering Systems

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Sputter deposition is a commonly used method that provides thin films on a substrate.

science-technology-circuitSputtering is essentially a process wherein a controlled, mainly an inert argon, is led into a vacuum evaporation system which then a cathode become electrically energized to generate a self sustaining plasma. The cathode, which is referred to as the target, is a partial piece of the material that is applied over the substrate. The gas atoms will then become positively charged through the loss of ions. It will then become accelerated with a substantial amount of kinetic energy which then hits the target and dislocates the atoms. The sputtered material will then consist of a vapor stream, which will pass through the chamber and stick onto the substrate as a coating or film.

The Basics of Sputtering

Now, the substrate’s surface must be kept clean in order to obtain solid film adhesion. Effective cleaning and handling procedures must be used before placing the substrate into the vacuum chamber. Otherwise, the results may vary, and the coating or film will not have the necessary properties that are needed. It is common to incorporate cleaning features such as sputter etch into the system as an option as well. There must be various measures taken in order to obtain the finest qualities and properties. The design of the sputter deposition system allows engineers to adjust a number of parameters to improve variables such as: uniformity, thickness, stress, adhesion strength, electrical properties, and more. Also, the power type that is employed on the cathodes must also be taken into account. DC power is most often used.


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