How to Correctly Use the Sputter Coater Target (Precautions During The Sputtering Process)

Sputter coater targets have high requirements during use, requiring not only purity, size, and even grain size uniformity. These high requirements make us pay more attention when using sputtering targets. Let’s take a look at the five points of use of the sputtering coater target during use.

  1. Sputter preparation

It is very important to keep the vacuum chamber and the sputtering system clean. Any residue formed by lubricating oil and dust, as well as pre-coating, will accumulate moisture and other contaminants, directly increasing the possibility of film failure. Apart from it, the unclean sputtering chambers, sputter guns, and sputtering targets will also cause system short circuits, target arcing and rough surface formation.

In order to maintain the composition characteristics of the coating, the sputtering gas (argon or oxygen) must be cleaned and dried. After the substrate is placed in the sputtering chamber, the air needs to be extracted to achieve the vacuum level required by the process.

  1. Target cleaning

The purpose of target cleaning is the same as the first point in order to remove dust or dirt that may be present on the surface of the target and keep it clean.

  1. Target installation

The most important precaution during target installation is to ensure a good thermal connection between the target and the stabilizing wall of the sputter gun. If the warp of the cooling stave or backing plate is severe, it may cause cracking or bending of the target during installation. In this way, the thermal conductivity of the backing plate to the target is greatly affected, resulting in the inability to dissipate heat during the sputtering process, which eventually causes the target to crack or off.

  1. Short circuit and seal check

After the target is installed in the sputtering machine, it is necessary to inspect the circuit condition and seal of the cathode. It is recommended to judge whether there is a short circuit in the cathode by observing the way the resistance meter shakes. After determining that there is no short circuit in the cathode, water can be passed to the cathode to determine if there is water leakage.

  1. Target pre-sputtering

It is recommended to use pure argon for target pre-sputtering, which can help clean the surface of the target. When the sputter coating target is pre-sputtered, it is recommended to increase the sputtering power slowly. The power-increasing rate of the ceramic target is recommended to be 1.5 Wh/cm2, and the pre-sputtering speed of the metal sputter coater target materials can be 1.8 Wh/cm2 with a reasonable power increase rate compared to the ceramic target block.

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Physical Vapor Deposition: Sputter Coating & Evaporation

Physical vapor deposition processes use vacuum technology to create a sub-atmospheric pressure environment and an atomic or molecular condensable vapor source (from a solid or liquid surface) to deposit thin films and coatings. Sputtering deposition and vacuum evaporation are among the more well known.

physical vapor deposition sputtering evaporation

Sputtering deposition

The sputtering deposition is an etching process that alters the physical properties of a surface. In this process, a gas plasma discharge is set up between two electrodes: a cathode plating material (the sputter coater targets) and an anode material (the substrate). The film made by sputter coating are thin, ranging from 0.00005 – 0.01 mm. Chromium, titanium, aluminum, copper, molybdenum, tungsten, gold, and silver are typical sputter coating targets.

Sputter coated films are used routinely in decorative applications such as watchbands, eyeglasses, and jewelry. Also, the electronics industry relies on heavily sputtered coatings and films, such as thin film wiring on chips and recording heads as well as magnetic and magneto-optic recording media. Companies also use sputter deposition to produce reflective films for large pieces of architectural glass used in the automotive industry. Compared to other deposition processes, sputter deposition is relatively inexpensive.

vacuum coating

Vacuum Evaporation

The vacuum evaporation is a process of reducing the wastewater volume through a method that consists of concentrating a solution by eliminating the solvent by boiling. In this case, it is performed at a pressure lower than atmospheric pressure. Thus, the boiling temperature is much lower than that at atmospheric pressure, thereby resulting in notable energy savings. The basic components of this process consist of: evaporation pellets,  heat-exchanger, vacuum, vapor separator, and condenser.

Vacuum evaporation is used in the semiconductor, microelectronics, and optical industries and in this context is a process of depositing thin films of material onto surfaces. High-purity films can be obtained from a source evaporation material with high purity. The source of the material that is going to be vaporized onto the substrate can be a solid in any shape or form (usually pellets). The versatility of this method trumps other deposition processes. Also, when the deposition is not desired, masks are utilized to define the areas on the substrate for control purposes.

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