Advantages and Disadvantages of Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD)

Introduction to Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD)

In the world of materials science, the quest for precision and versatility in thin film preparation has led to the development of several advanced techniques, among which Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) stands out.

PLD, also known as Pulsed Laser Ablation, harnesses the power of a laser to bombard the surface of a target material. This process elevates the surface temperature significantly, producing high-temperature and high-pressure plasma (T > 104K). The material then deposits on various substrates to form a thin film. This technique is celebrated for its ability to create films with unparalleled precision, catering to a wide range of applications from microelectronics to optical technologies.

Simplified schematic diagram illustrating the pulsed laser deposition (PLD) set-up.
Simplified schematic diagram illustrating the pulsed laser deposition (PLD) set-up. Ogugua, Simon & Swart, H. & Ntwaeaborwa, Odireleng. (2020). Latest Development on Pulsed Laser Deposited ThinFilms for Advanced Luminescence Applications. Coatings. 10. 1078. 10.3390/coatings10111078.

Advantages of PLD

Multi-component Films

One of the hallmark advantages of PLD is its adeptness at producing multi-component films that maintain the desired stoichiometric ratios with ease. This characteristic is particularly beneficial in applications requiring precise chemical compositions, making PLD a preferred method for developing advanced functional materials.

High Deposition Rate and Flexibility

PLD boasts a high deposition rate, ensuring a swift test period and minimal substrate temperature requirements. This efficiency, coupled with the uniformity of the films prepared, positions PLD as a highly effective method for thin film deposition. Moreover, the process’s inherent simplicity and flexibility signal its vast development potential and compatibility across a broad spectrum of materials science endeavors.

Adjustable Process Parameters

The ability to arbitrarily adjust process parameters is another feather in PLD’s cap. This flexibility allows for the easy preparation of multilayer films and heterojunctions, with no limitation on the type of PLD targets. The adaptability in choosing multi-target components further underscores PLD’s versatility in meeting diverse material preparation needs.

Non-polluting and Easy Control

Utilizing UV pulsed lasers as the energy source for plasma generation, PLD stands out as a non-polluting technique. This aspect, combined with the method’s ease of control, ensures that PLD aligns with the growing demand for environmentally friendly and easily manageable manufacturing processes in the production of thin film materials.

Disadvantages of PLD

Despite its numerous advantages, PLD is not without its challenges. One notable issue is the presence of molten small particles or target fragments in the deposited film, which can significantly compromise the quality of the film. These particles, sputtered during the laser-induced explosion, introduce defects that detract from the film’s integrity.

The feasibility of PLD for large-area deposition also remains unproven, limiting its application in industries requiring expansive film coverage. Coupled with an average deposition rate that is slow relative to other methods, these limitations suggest areas where PLD may benefit from further refinement and innovation.

Moreover, considering the cost and scale of laser film preparation equipment, PLD’s current applicability appears confined to high-tech fields such as microelectronics, sensor technology, optical technology, and new material films. This niche positioning highlights the need for continued development to expand PLD’s utility across a broader range of applications.

Stanford Advanced Materials (SAM) and PLD

In the landscape of thin film preparation, the role of reliable materials suppliers cannot be overstated. Stanford Advanced Materials (SAM) Corporation emerges as a global leader in providing a diverse array of sputtering targets, including metals, alloys, oxides, and ceramic materials. These materials are pivotal for PLD and other thin film deposition techniques, underscoring SAM’s contribution to advancing the frontiers of materials science and engineering.


Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) presents a compelling technique in the preparation of thin films, offering a unique blend of precision, versatility, and environmental friendliness. While its advantages pave the way for innovative applications, the method’s limitations highlight areas ripe for research and development. As the field continues to evolve, partnerships with materials suppliers like Stanford Advanced Materials (SAM) will be crucial in harnessing PLD’s full potential, driving forward the technological advancements that rely on high-quality thin films.

Applications of Platinum Sputter Targets

Platinum sputter targets, integral components in diverse industries, contribute significantly to technological advancements and scientific progress. In this comprehensive exploration, we delve into the wide-ranging applications of platinum sputter targets, illuminating their pivotal role in shaping various sectors.

Semiconductor Industry:

The semiconductor industry heavily relies on platinum sputter targets for the fabrication of integrated circuits, which are the backbone of electronic devices. These targets play a crucial role in the physical vapor deposition process, facilitating the deposition of thin platinum films onto semiconductor wafers. The resulting thin films enhance the performance and miniaturization of transistors and capacitors, contributing to the relentless evolution of semiconductor technology.

Platinum’s remarkable conductivity and stability make it an ideal material for creating thin films that ensure efficient electron flow within semiconductor devices. The precision offered by platinum sputter targets is instrumental in achieving the fine details required for intricate electronic components.

Optical Coatings and Thin Films:

The optical properties of platinum, characterized by high reflectivity and low absorption, position it as a key player in optical coatings. Platinum sputter targets are employed in processes like magnetron sputtering to deposit thin films on optical surfaces. These thin films significantly enhance the reflective properties of mirrors and coatings, making them indispensable in optical devices, telescopes, and lenses.

Beyond reflectivity, platinum’s resilience allows these thin films to endure harsh environmental conditions, ensuring the longevity and sustained performance of optical components.

Biomedical Implants and Devices:

Platinum’s biocompatibility and corrosion resistance make it a preferred material in the biomedical field. Platinum sputter targets are instrumental in depositing thin films on medical implants and devices, enhancing biocompatibility, preventing corrosion, and improving overall device performance and safety.

Consider platinum-coated stents used in cardiovascular procedures, where the thin platinum film ensures compatibility with the human body, reducing the risk of adverse reactions and enhancing the device’s effectiveness.

Catalysis and Sensors:

Platinum’s catalytic prowess places it at the forefront of catalysis and sensor technologies. Platinum sputter targets play a crucial role in creating nanostructured platinum films, elevating their catalytic activity. These nanostructured films find applications in fuel cells, where they facilitate the conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy.

In the realm of sensors, platinum-thin films contribute to the development of highly sensitive and selective sensors. Gas sensors benefit from the conductivity and stability of platinum thin films, enabling precise detection of gases in diverse environments for applications in environmental monitoring, industrial safety, and healthcare.

Flexible Electronics:

The flexibility and durability of platinum sputter targets position them prominently in the realm of flexible electronics. As demand surges for flexible displays, wearable devices, and bendable electronics, platinum thin films, deposited using platinum sputter targets, play a pivotal role in creating conductive and reliable components.

Platinum’s ability to maintain electrical properties under mechanical stress renders it an ideal material for flexible electronic applications. Platinum sputter targets ensure the deposition of thin films that guarantee the longevity and robustness of flexible electronic devices.

Further Reading: Everything You Need to Know About Platinum Sputter Targets

Advancements in Research and Development:

Platinum sputter targets serve as cornerstones in research and development activities, providing a platform for exploring new materials and applications. Materials scientists and researchers leverage platinum thin films to experiment with innovative combinations and structures, pushing the boundaries of achievable feats across scientific disciplines.

Emerging technologies like quantum computing and advanced sensors often rely on platinum thin films as integral components. The precision afforded by platinum sputter targets contributes to the development of devices boasting superior electrical conductivity, magnetic properties, and resistance to environmental factors.

Environmental Considerations and Sustainable Practices:

The use of platinum sputter targets also aligns with environmental considerations and sustainable practices. Recycling platinum from used sputtering targets and electronic waste is gaining attention as a sustainable practice. Efficient recycling processes reduce the environmental impact of platinum extraction and address economic challenges associated with the scarcity of this precious metal.

Global Impact and Collaboration:

The applications of platinum sputter targets extend globally, with research and collaboration fostering advancements on an international scale. International collaboration in materials science and engineering accelerates progress in platinum-sputtering technology. Researchers from different countries contribute diverse perspectives and expertise, leading to breakthroughs that benefit a wide range of industries.

Industrial partnerships further amplify the impact of platinum sputter targets. Collaboration between research institutions and industries facilitates the development of customized platinum thin film solutions tailored to specific industrial requirements, promoting the seamless integration of this technology into various sectors.


In conclusion, the applications of platinum sputter targets are extensive and influential across multiple industries. From their indispensable role in semiconductor manufacturing to their contributions to optical coatings, biomedical devices, catalysis, and flexible electronics, platinum sputter targets continue to be at the forefront of driving innovation.

The unique properties of platinum, coupled with the precision enabled by sputtering processes, make platinum sputter targets irreplaceable in creating high-quality thin films. As technology advances and new applications emerge, the versatility of platinum sputter targets ensures their sustained significance in shaping the future of various technological fields.

The evolving applications, optimization strategies, and global impact of platinum sputter targets underscore their pivotal role in the ever-expanding realm of thin-film technologies. As we look forward, the journey of platinum sputtering continues, promising further breakthroughs and transformative applications that will shape the future of multiple industries.

Applications of Silver Sputtering Targets in Electronics

In the fast-paced realm of electronics, where innovation is relentless and precision is paramount, the role of silver sputtering targets is nothing short of indispensable. These unassuming components play a crucial role in the intricate process of thin film deposition, contributing to the production of electronic devices that power our modern lives.

Further Reading: Everything You Need to Know About Silver Sputter Targets

At the heart of this technology is the utilization of silver sputtering targets in physical vapor deposition (PVD) processes, a method widely employed for depositing thin films on various surfaces. The versatility of silver in these applications stems from its excellent electrical conductivity, making it a preferred choice for numerous electronic components.

The Core of Electronic Manufacturing: Semiconductors

Semiconductors form the backbone of electronic devices, serving as the building blocks for everything from microprocessors to memory chips. Silver sputtering targets find a crucial role in the production of thin films for semiconductor devices, contributing to their functionality and performance.

In semiconductor manufacturing, precision is non-negotiable. The ability to control the thickness of the deposited film is paramount for ensuring the reliability and efficiency of electronic components. Silver sputtering targets shine in this aspect, providing manufacturers with the means to exert meticulous control over the deposition process. This precision contributes to the creation of semiconductor devices that power everything from smartphones to advanced computing systems.

Advancing Display Technologies with Silver Sputtering

The vibrant screens of televisions, computer monitors, and smartphones are a testament to the intricate layers of materials working in harmony. Silver sputtering targets play a pivotal role in the production of thin film layers for displays, enhancing the quality of visual experiences for users.

In display technologies, the demand for thin, transparent conductive films has escalated. Silver, with its exceptional conductivity, emerges as a key player in this arena. Through the sputtering process, manufacturers can precisely deposit thin layers of silver onto display surfaces, contributing to the overall performance and longevity of electronic screens.

Harnessing Solar Power with Silver Sputtering

As the world shifts towards sustainable energy sources, silver sputtering targets have found a significant application in the realm of solar cell technology. Solar cells harness the power of sunlight to generate electricity, and the efficiency of these cells is closely tied to the quality of the thin films used within them.

Silver sputtering targets contribute to the production of thin films in solar cells, improving their efficiency and enabling the conversion of sunlight into usable energy. The reflective properties of silver play a crucial role in optimizing light absorption, ultimately enhancing the overall performance of solar panels.

Enhancing Optical Surfaces: Mirrors and Beyond

The reflective glory of mirrors and the optimal performance of various optical devices owe much to the role of silver sputtering targets. In the creation of optical coatings, silver sputtering targets are employed to deposit thin films on surfaces, ensuring that mirrors and other reflective materials maintain their reflective properties.

Reflectivity is not just a matter of aesthetics but is fundamental to the functionality of optical devices like telescopes and camera lenses. By leveraging the reflective nature of silver, these devices can capture and focus light effectively, resulting in high-quality images and visual experiences.

A Silent Hero in the World of Electronics

While silver sputtering targets might not steal the spotlight in the headlines, their silent contribution is undeniably significant. From powering our electronic devices to harnessing solar energy and enhancing reflective surfaces in our daily lives, these unassuming components play a crucial role in shaping the landscape of modern technology.

The next time you marvel at the sleek design of your smartphone or enjoy the clarity of your mirror, take a moment to acknowledge the tiny silver particles working diligently behind the scenes. The remarkable process of sputtering, coupled with the unassuming silver sputter targets, exemplifies how subtle heroes contribute to the advancements and innovations that define our electronic age. As technology continues to progress, these silent heroes will likely play an even more prominent role in shaping the devices and innovations of the future.

Deformation Treatment of Aluminum Sputter Targets

Aluminum sputter targets may seem like humble components, but their journey from high-purity aluminum ingots to precision-engineered pieces involves a fascinating process known as deformation treatment. In this article, we’ll explore the intricacies of how high-purity aluminum undergoes deformation to transform into sputter targets, contributing to advancements in thin film technology.


Aluminum sputter targets are the unsung heroes of thin film technology, and the meticulous process they undergo is crucial to their performance. The deformation treatment of aluminum, involving forging, rolling, and heating, is the key to shaping this metal into precision targets. Let’s delve into the journey of how simple aluminum evolves through a series of controlled processes to become an essential component in vacuum coating machines.

Further Reading: An Overview of Aluminum Sputter Target

High-Purity Aluminum Ingot

The journey begins with a high-purity aluminum ingot—a material of utmost importance. High purity is not just a requirement; it’s a necessity. This initial stage sets the foundation for the entire process, ensuring that the aluminum is free from impurities that could compromise the quality of the resulting sputter target.

Forging: Shaping the Futur

The first significant step in the deformation treatment is forging. In simpler terms, forging involves shaping the aluminum through the application of localized compressive forces. Think of it as molding clay but on a microscopic level. The goal is to give the aluminum a preliminary form, setting the stage for subsequent processing.

Forging Aluminum Ingot

Rolling: Refining the Crystal Structure

Following forging, the aluminum undergoes rolling—a process where it is passed through rollers. This isn’t just about flattening the material; it’s about refining the crystal structure. The grains in the aluminum align, creating a more uniform and controlled structure. This refinement is crucial for achieving the desired mechanical properties.

Heating: The Controlled Transformation

Heating is a crucial stage in the deformation treatment process. Controlled heating serves multiple purposes, acting as a catalyst for stress relief, recrystallization, and the elimination of any lingering imperfections. Picture it as a controlled transformation, where the aluminum undergoes changes that enhance its overall properties.

Crystal Grain Refinement and Density Enhancement

Throughout the deformation treatment, the focus is on crystal grain refinement. Finer crystal grains contribute to enhanced strength, improved conductivity, and a more uniform material. Additionally, the density of the aluminum increases, a vital aspect for ensuring the sputter target’s performance during the thin film deposition process.

Processing into Target Size

Once the deformation treatment is complete, the high-purity aluminum material is meticulously processed into the specific size and shape required for the vacuum coater. Precision machining takes center stage, ensuring that the resulting sputter target meets exact specifications, a critical factor for optimal performance.

High Precision and Surface Quality

Precision is paramount in the final stages of the deformation treatment. The processed aluminum must meet stringent standards for both high precision and surface quality. Any imperfection on the surface could compromise the performance of the sputter target, emphasizing the importance of attention to detail in this intricate process.


In conclusion, the deformation treatment of aluminum sputter targets is a journey that transforms a seemingly ordinary material into a crucial component of thin film technology. From the high-purity aluminum ingot to the meticulously processed sputter target, each step plays a vital role in ensuring optimal performance in vacuum coating applications.

Understanding the deformation treatment journey sheds light on the complexity behind the seemingly simple sputter targets, highlighting the precision, care, and engineering prowess required to contribute to advancements in thin film technology.

By appreciating this journey, we gain insight into how a basic metal can undergo controlled transformations, evolving into a component that drives innovation in various industries. The deformation treatment of aluminum sputter targets is a testament to the intersection of simplicity and sophistication in the world of materials science.

For more information, please visit SAM Sputter Targets.

Indium TIn Oxide in Biomedical Applications


Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), celebrated for its prowess in transparent conducting oxides, is not confined to the realms of electronics and displays. This article delves into the fascinating intersection of ITO and biomedical applications, exploring how this versatile material is making significant contributions to the field of medicine.

ITO in Biomedical Devices: A Biocompatible Marvel

In recent years, researchers have been unlocking the potential of ITO in various biomedical applications, capitalizing on its unique blend of electrical conductivity, optical transparency, and, notably, biocompatibility. Unlike traditional materials, ITO showcases minimal inhibition of cell growth and negligible protein adsorption, making it an ideal candidate for integration into biomedical devices.

Applications in Biosensors

One notable avenue where ITO shines is in the realm of biosensors. ITO’s exceptional conductivity and transparency make it an optimal substrate for biosensor electrodes. These biosensors, equipped with ITO components, enable the precise detection of biological molecules, paving the way for advancements in medical diagnostics and disease monitoring.

ITO in Medical Imaging Devices

The marriage of ITO with medical imaging devices has yielded promising results. Its application in devices such as X-ray detectors and transparent electrodes for imaging sensors contributes to enhanced imaging quality. The superior electrical properties of ITO facilitate the creation of high-performance imaging devices crucial in medical diagnostics.


Implantable Electronics Enhanced by ITO

The quest for more sophisticated and biocompatible implantable electronics has led researchers to ITO. As an electrode material in implantable devices, ITO offers a unique combination of electrical functionality and transparency. This is particularly valuable in devices like neural implants and bioelectronic medicine, where seamless integration with biological tissues is paramount.

ITO in Drug Delivery Systems

The controlled release of pharmaceuticals is a critical aspect of drug delivery systems. ITO’s biocompatibility and electrical properties play a role in developing smart drug delivery platforms. Researchers are exploring ITO-based systems to precisely control drug release, optimizing therapeutic outcomes and minimizing side effects.

Biomedical Advances Fueled by ITO

Enhanced Biocompatibility:

ITO’s compatibility with biological systems reduces the risk of adverse reactions, making it an attractive choice for devices directly interfacing with the human body.

Precise Bioelectronic Interfaces:

ITO’s electrical properties enable the creation of precise interfaces between electronic devices and biological tissues, fostering advancements in neuroprosthetics and bioelectronic medicine.

Real-time Monitoring and Diagnostics:

Biosensors incorporating ITO facilitate real-time monitoring of biomarkers, enabling early detection of diseases and providing valuable data for personalized medicine.

Challenges and Future Prospects

While ITO holds immense promise in biomedical applications, challenges such as long-term stability and scalability must be addressed. Researchers are actively working on innovative solutions, including advanced coatings and material enhancements, to ensure the sustained effectiveness of ITO in medical settings.


Indium Tin Oxide’s foray into biomedical applications is reshaping the landscape of medical technology. From biosensors to implantable electronics, ITO’s unique properties are contributing to groundbreaking innovations in diagnostics, therapeutics, and patient care. As researchers continue to unravel the potential of ITO in the realm of medicine, the collaborative synergy between materials science and healthcare promises a future where ITO plays a pivotal role in advancing biomedical technologies.

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Selection of Common Coating Types of PVD Coating

Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) is a thin film preparation technique that physically vaporizes the surface of a material source (solid or liquid) into gaseous atoms, molecules, or partially ionized into ions under vacuum conditions. [1]

Achieving a cost-effective application of the coating depends on a number of factors, and for each particular processing application, there is typically only one or several possible coating options. The choice of coating and its characteristics correctly determines the difference between a significant increase in processability and little improvement. Therefore, it is necessary to select a suitable coating according to detailed parameters such as the processing speed, the cooling method, the material to be processed, and the processing method. The following is our recommended coating selection:


TiN is a versatile coating that increases tool hardness and has a higher oxidation temperature.

Uses: high-speed steel cutting tools, slow processing tools (such as low-speed turning tools), wear parts, injection molds.


The TiCN coating is based on the addition of carbon to the TiN to increase the hardness and low coefficient of friction of the coating.

Uses: high-speed steel tools, stamping dies, forming dies

TiAlN, AlTiN

The alumina coating formed by the TiAlN/AlTiN coating during processing can effectively improve the high-temperature processing life of the processing tool. The high-temperature oxidation resistance of the AlTiN coating is about 100 degrees higher than that of TiAlN.

Uses: Carbide tools (TiAlN is recommended when the hardness of the processed material is lower than HRC45 and AlTiN is recommended when the hardness of the processed material is higher than HRC45), thin-walled stamping die (TiAlN), die-casting die (AlTiN)


CrN coating has good adhesion, corrosion resistance, and wear-resistance.

Uses: processing aluminum alloy, red copper cutter, injection mold, parts (especially with lubricating oil soaking)


The PLATIT CBC coating is composed of a TIN+TICN+DLC structure. It has the advantages of low friction coefficient, wear-resistance, and low stress of the film layer.

Uses: Lubricating coatings, forming dies, aluminum alloys, and other bonding materials stamping dies.

Apart from features and uses, different coating materials also show different colors. If you require the specific color of your coating, you can refer to the sheet below to choose your desirable coating materials.

PVD Coating Colors

Stanford Advanced Materials(SAM) supplies high-quality and consistent products to meet our customers’ R&D and production needs. All the types we talked about above can be found in SAM. Please visit for more information.


[1] What is Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD)?

Magnetrons & Magnets Used in Magnetron Sputtering

The planar magnetron is an exemplary “diode” mode sputtering cathode with the key expansion of a permanent magnet cluster behind the cathode. This magnet exhibit is organized so that the attractive field on the substance of the target is ordinary to the electric field in a shut way and structures a limit “burrow” which traps electrons close to the surface of the target. This enhances the effectiveness of gas ionization and compels the release plasma, permitting higher presence at the lower gas weight and attaining a higher sputter affidavit rate for Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) coatings.

Although some distinctive magnetron cathode/target shapes have been utilized in magnetron sputtering processes, the most widely recognized target types are circular and rectangular. Circular magnetrons are all the more regularly found in littler scale “confocal” cluster frameworks or single wafer stations in group instruments. Rectangular Magnetrons are frequently found in bigger scale “in line” frameworks where substrates examine straightly past the focus on some type of carpet lift or transporter.

Color-online-Upper-Illustrations-of-circular-and-rectangular-planar-magnetron. Greene, J.. (2017). Review Article: Tracing the recorded history of thin-film sputter deposition: From the 1800s to 2017. Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces, and Films. 35. 05C204. 10.1116/1.4998940.

Most cathodes – including practically all circular and rectangular ones – have a straightforward concentric magnet design with the middle being one shaft and the edge the inverse. For the circular magnetron, this would be a generally little adjusted magnet in the middle, and an annular ring magnet of the inverse extremity around the outside with a hole in the middle. For the rectangular magnetron, the core one is typically a bar down the long hub (however short of the full length) with a rectangular “wall” of the inverse extremity and the distance around it with a hole in the middle. The crevice is the place the plasma will be, a roundabout ring in the circular magnetron or a lengthened “race track” in the rectangular.

The magnetron works with either an attractive arrangement – the middle could be north and the border might be south, or the other way around. Notwithstanding, in most sputter frameworks, there are various cathodes in reasonably close vicinity to one another, and you don’t need stray north/ south fields structured in the middle of the targets.

Those N/S fields ought to just be on the targets’ confronts, structuring the coveted attractive shafts there. Hence, it is completely attractive to verify all the cathodes in one framework are adjusted the same way, either all north on their borders or all south on their edges. What’s more, for offices with numerous sputter frameworks, it is similarly alluring to make all of them the same so cathodes can securely be traded between the frameworks without agonizing over magnet arrangement.

There are extra contemplations and choices in regard to the magnets. Most target materials are nonmagnetic and in this manner don’t meddle with the obliged attractive field quality. However, in the event that you are sputtering attractive materials, for example, iron or nickel, you will require either higher quality magnets, more slender targets, or both with a specific end goal to abstain from having the surface attractive field adequately shorted out by the attractive target material.

Past that, the magnet’s subtle elements, for example, attractive quality and crevice measurements, might be intended to enhance target material usage or to enhance consistency along the vital pivot of a rectangular target. It is even conceivable to utilize electromagnets rather than perpetual magnets, which can manage the cost of some level of programmable control of the attractive field, yet does, obviously, build many-sided quality and expense.

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How to Judge the Uniformity of PVD film?

PVD, Physical Vapor Deposition, is a general term for a series of coating methods. It includes two main categories: evaporation deposition coating and sputtering deposition coating. To specifictly classify it, there are vacuum ion evaporation, magnetron sputtering, MBE molecular beam epitaxy, sol gel method, etc.

For PVD vacuum coating with different principles, the concept of uniformity will have different meanings with the coating scale and film composition, and the factors affecting uniformity are also different. In general, film uniformity can be understood from the following three aspects.

Uniformity in thickness (roughness)

From the scale of optical films (that is, 1/10 wavelength as a unit, about 100A), vacuum coating can easily control the roughness within 1/10 of the wavelength of visible light, and the uniformity is quite good.

But if it refers to the uniformity on the atomic layer scale (that is to say, to achieve 10A or even 1A surface flatness), the roughness of the film can be good or bad, which is also the main technical content and technical bottleneck in the current vacuum coating.

The thickness uniformity is mainly determined by the following points: 1) the degree of lattice matching between the substrate material and the target material; 2) the surface temperature of the substrate; 3) evaporation power, speed; 4) vacuum degree; 5) coating time, thickness.

Thin film thickness

Uniformity in chemical composition

In thin films, the atomic composition of compounds can easily produce non-uniform properties due to their small size. For example, in the process of preparing SiTiO3 thin films, if the material ratio and environment are not strictly controlled, the components of the prepared surface may not be SiTiO3, but Sr, Ti, and O may exist in other proportions.

The uniformity of the components of the evaporation coating is not easy to guarantee, and the specific factors that can be adjusted are the same as the above, but due to the limitation of the principle, for the non-single component coating, the uniformity of the components of the evaporation coating is not good.

Uniformity of lattice order

This determines whether the film is single crystal, polycrystalline, or amorphous. It is also a hot issue in vacuum coating technology.

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3 Factors of Target Quality Influence Large-area Coating

Most modern buildings have begun to use large areas of glass for lighting, and its biggest advantage is that it can bring us brighter light and a wider view. However, since the heat energy transmitted through the glass is much higher than the surrounding walls, the energy consumption of the entire building increases significantly. In order to solve this problem, people have begun to study and apply large-area Low-E glass.

Low-E glass is commonly used in building construction because of its ability to save energy, control light, and for aesthetics. The sputtering target material is one of the essential components for making low-e glass, so this article will introduce 3 factors of target quality that influence large-area coating of low-E glass.

The shape of the target materials

For large-area coating, commonly used targets include planar targets and rotatory targets according to their shapes. The shape of the target affects the stability and film properties of the magnetron sputtering coating, as well as the utilization rate of the target. Therefore, the coating quality and production efficiency can be improved by changing the shape design of the target, and the cost can be saved.

planar targets and rotatory targets
Planar targets and rotatory targets

Relative density & porosity of the target

The relative density of the target is the ratio of the actual density to the theoretical density. The theoretical density of a single-component target is the crystal density, and the theoretical density of an alloy or compound target is calculated from the theoretical density of each component and its proportion in the alloy or mixture.

If the target material is loose and porous, it will absorb more impurities and moisture, which are the main pollution sources in the coating process. These impurities will hinder the rapid acquisition of high vacuum, easily lead to electrical discharge during the sputtering process, and even burn out the target. Find high-quality target material here:

Target grain size and crystallographic direction

For targets of the same composition, the one with the smaller grain size has a faster deposition rate. This is mainly due to the fact that grain boundaries are more vulnerable to attack during the sputtering process, and the more grain boundaries, the faster the film formation.

In addition, the grain size also affects the quality of the film formation. For example, in the production process of Low-E glass, NiCr thin-film is used as the protective layer of the infrared reflection layer Ag, and its quality has a great influence on the coating products. Since the extinction coefficient of the NiCr film is relatively large, it is generally plated very thinly (about 3nm). If the grain size is too large and the sputtering time is short, the compactness of the film will be poor, the protective effect of the Ag layer will be reduced, and the coating product will be oxidized and removed.


The shape of the target mainly affects the utilization rate of the target material, and a reasonable size design can improve the utilization rate of the target material and save costs. The smaller the grain size, the faster the coating rate and the better the uniformity. The higher the purity and density, the lower the porosity, the better the quality of the film formation, and the lower the probability of slag removal by discharge.

Electron Beam Deposition for Film Coating


Electron beam deposition is a form of physical vapor deposition (PVD) in which the target anode material is bombarded with a stream of electrons generated by a tungsten filament. Electron beam thin film deposition techniques are widely used in R&D as well as in mass production applications.

Electron beam deposition is performed in a vacuum, typically starting the process at levels below 10-5 Torr. Once a suitable vacuum is reached, a tungsten filament in the electron beam source emits a stream of electrons. This electron beam can be generated in various ways, including thermionic emission, field electron emission, or ion arc source, depending on the design of the source and associated power supply.

In all cases, the negatively charged electrons are attracted to the positively charged anode material. The generated electron beam is accelerated to high kinetic energy and directed towards the material to be deposited on the substrate. This energy is converted into heat by interacting with the atoms of the evaporated material.

The purpose of generating a stream of electrons in an electron beam source is to heat the deposited material to a temperature above a vapor pressure threshold at a given background pressure. The vapor stream is then condensed onto the surface of the substrate.

Schematic representation of electron beam evaporation system depicting various parts.
Schematic representation of electron beam evaporation system depicting various parts.. Mohanty, P. & Kabiraj, Debdulal & Mandal, R.K. & Kulriya, Pawan Kumar & Sinha, Ask & Rath, Chandana. (2014). Evidence of room temperature ferromagnetism in argon/oxygen annealed TiO2 thin films deposited by electron beam evaporation technique. Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials. 355. 240–245. 10.1016/j.jmmm.2013.12.025.

Deposition Rate

As with all thermal evaporation systems, the electron beam deposition rate depends on the temperature of the material being deposited and the vapor pressure (physical constant) of that material. For elemental materials, there is a fixed vapor pressure for any particular background pressure (vacuum) and material temperature. However, for alloys or composites, there may be different partial pressures associated with each component.

Compared with Sputter Coating

Unlike sputter deposition, where individual atoms arrive at the substrate surface with very high velocity and momentum, the thermally generated vapor stream arrives at the substrate surface at a considerably lower velocity, but a much greater velocity. In other words, e-beam deposition rates can be orders of magnitude greater than sputter deposition rates, making e-beam coatings very beneficial for high volume production or thick film requirements. One disadvantage, however, is that the material tends to condense directly on the substrate surface due to the different kinetic energy of the arriving species during electron beam evaporation than that of the sputtered species. In contrast, atoms of sputtered materials tend to penetrate several atomic layers (or more) to the substrate surface before losing momentum and then establishing cohesive bonds in nucleation structures and film growth. Thus sputtered films tend to provide better adhesion properties than thermally evaporated materials.

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