Written by: Denton Vacuum
If you had a piece of plastic and wanted to apply a coat of metal to it, you can use thin film evaporation to deposit a thin layer of metallic coating on it. Manufacturers use a Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition unit to complete the process. It uses a lower temperature than CVD systems, and it maintains the thickness of the film.
The process relies on electrical energy to create a glowing plasma discharge. This transfers the energy into a gas mixture, which then converts to reactive radicals, ions, neutral atoms and other molecules. These fragments interact with what is called the substrate, or the base material you are working with.
Once the process has started, you can use it to create an etching in the substrate or deposit metallic molecules onto the surface. The PECVD system maintains a low temperature, so when the gas collides with the energy, the substrate is virtually unaffected by the heat. This is good when you require consistency, as higher heat levels may have unintended consequences to the substrate.
Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition is used in a variety of medical and industrial applications. It’s how super conductors are coated, and how circuit boards are made. It’s also used in the manufacture of medical devices that require a slippery coating. This process can apply the necessary chemicals on a molecular level, maintaining the original shape and thickness of the substrate.
Products made by PECVD films have excellent adhesion, a pinhole density that is lower than CVD, and uniformity in the molecular layers.