Guest post is provided by Denton Vacuum, LLC, a leader in processes such as thin film vacuum coating.  Browse their website for more information.

There are some important differences between a basic sputtering process and a magnetron sputtering system.  There are various ways to deposit materials, including metals and plastics, onto a substrate, in order to create a thin film.  One such process is known as a sputtering system.  It is by far one of the most popular ways to fabricate thin films.

Sputtering is a type of physical vapor deposition which is performed in a precision vacuum.  In the basic sputtering process, a target is bombarded by ions, such as an inert gas.  The way that the ions crash onto the target releases target atoms.  The target atoms then have to move in order to reach the substrate and condense into a film.  Once a significant amount of atoms lie on the substrate, they create an atomic layer, resulting in a thin film structure.

The magnetron sputtering systems are similar to the basic process, however, this process can be used to enhance the basic process.  The process is similar except for the fact that a magnetron sputtering system involves a strong magnetic field that’s placed close to the target area.  In this process, electrons spiral towards the target, but are not attracted toward the substrate.  This is a more efficient sputtering process due to a faster deposition rate.  Impurities on the thin film are kept to a minimum with this process.

Another popular vacuum process is ebeam evaporation.  This is used to heat a source material.  It is a process that requires significant skill and safety because it’s complicated.  It utilizes 10,000 volts in order to create thin film coatings that are used in many different objects.


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