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Thin Film Deposition Laboratory: Sputtering

In this deposition technique, a target (anode) made of the material which has to be evaporated is blasted with inert gas ions (Ar). Most of the energy linked to this process transposes into the target heating (increase of the thermal agitation of the target atoms), but in some cases, the energy transferred after a collision with a gas ion may be transferred into an expulsion of the atom itself from the target. The material which is removed from the target will deposit on a support (substrate), at a fixed distance from the target, resulting in a thin film of the target material deposited on the chosen substrate.

Sputtering deposition apparatusSputtering deposition apparatus

This is a process that may be applied to any material including those with very low vapour pressures. Because of the atomic nature of this film growth tecnique, very small film thicknesses can be obtained.
The sputtering experimental system for thin films deposition consists of a vacuum chamber provided with a turbomolecular pump in series with a rotative pump. The pressures which can be reached with this system are in the order of 10-7 mbar.
A Residual Gas Analyzer is dedicated to control the atmosphere in which the sputtering processes take place. Moreover the chamber is endowed with 2 sputtering sources, dc (500 W) and RF(150 W) sources for the deposition of both metallic and insulator films. The system provides also the use of gases which allow the realization of reactive deposition processes (O2, N2).
This technique has been used for niobium (Nb) thin film deposition, a low temperature superconductor material with Tc=9.1 K, and niobium nitride NbN (Tc=18K) and more recently for the realization and the study of magnesium di-boride (MgB2, Tc=39K) thin films.