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What are some practical ways to increase deposition rates for a given target material and sputtering system?

There are many factors that influence deposition rate. The two common ways to increase rate within an existing sputtering system are to either increase the applied power to the target or reduce the throw distance. There is a linear relationship between sputtering rates and the applied target power. Doubling the applied power will double the sputtering rate. However, increasing the power to the target must be carefully planned since it is easy to damage a fragile target or melt a metallic target if the power is too high. Decreasing the source-to-substrate distance (r) is the most powerful way to influence the deposition rates because distance and rate have a power-law relationship. For a point source, the sputtering rate is a function of 1/r^2. However, decreasing the distance (r) may decrease in film thickness uniformity on the substrate. If neither ‘power’ nor ‘distance’ modification is possible in your vacuum system, contact SAM for further options. Slow deposition rates are expected when RF sputtering oxide or nitride targets. In some instances, rates can be dramatically increased by sputtering the metal target using pulsed DC power and adding O2 or N2 to the argon to produce the intended film composition. Contact SAM with any questions regarding this ‘reactive’ sputtering method.

About the author

Julissa Green graduated from the University of Taxes studying applied chemistry. She started her journalism life as a chemistry specialist in Stanford Advanced Materials (SAM) since 2016 and she has been fascinated by this fast growing industry ever since. If you have any particular topics of interest, or you have any questions, you can reach her at julissa@samaterials.com.