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Higher Ionization Rates with a Magnetron Sputtering System

May 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Guest post is provided by Denton Vacuum, LLC. Denton Vacuum manufactures machines that employ precision magnetron sputtering system methods for diamond-like film quality. Visit www.dentonvacuum.com for more information.

The magnetron sputtering system, also known as high-power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) and high-power pulsed magnetron sputtering (HPPMS), is a relatively new development in precision vacuum technology. The first patent was made by made by Kouznetsov in October of 2001. Industrial operations have only been taking advantage of this technology on a broad scale since 2006, although some industries got their hands on it prior to this year.

What separates magnetron sputtering from other sputtering methods is the high degree of ionization of the metal material that coats the target material. Along with the vacuum metalizing process, there is a high rate of molecular gas dissociation. Usually increasing the cathode power increases ionization with conventional sputtering processes, but there is normally a limit on thermal loads. If the material to be coated needs a higher ionization power, magnetron sputtering can do the job by allowing donor material to cool during “off times” and keep duty cycles small. The magnetron cathode utilizes magnetic fields to confine process, increasing the energy of particles used to bombard the target substance.

Advantages that magnetron sputtering has over other conventional methods is a denser coating morphology and increased ratio of hardness. Applications lie in industries that utilize or produce products that undergo intense heat or high impact. These include semiconductor fabrication, medical devices, and emerging technologies. All sputtering systems require specialized vacuums and produce a film of diamond-like quality. These thin film deposition systems produce a covering that extremely hard and protective. The quality these systems produce are second-to none and sometimes necessary depending on what they are coating.