How are Thin Films Microstructures Affected by HiPIMS Deposition Parameters?


Influence of HiPIMS Pulse Widths on the Deposition Behaviour and Properties of CuAgZr Compositionally Graded Films

Lapeyre et al.
Surface & Coatings Technology
DOI: 10.1016/j.surfcoat.2022.129002

In this study, researchers from the Bern University of Applied Sciences, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA), and TOFWERK studied the influence of the high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) parameters on the microstructure mechanical properties of the metallic glass (MG) system CuArZr.

Using a prototype version of a TOFWERK Process Analyzer connected directly to a HiPIMS- PVD system, it was possible to detect all deposition relevant ionic species in real time.

In combination with different in situ plasma diagnostics tools such as optical emission spectroscopy (OES), modified quartz micro balances (m-QCM), the ClearFab Process Analyzer was used to determine the ion fluxes and their composition when the HiPIMS discharge parameters were varied. The simultaneous detection of the full mass spectrum at high resolution allowed the use of isotopic patterns for unambiguous identification of the ionic species. In this paper, the relative abundance of singly and doubly charge metal ions as well as metal dimers were revealed.

Finally, the TOFWERK Process Analyzer provided important information for linking the deposition conditions to the observed microstructures and thus speeds up the development process.

While this paper illustrates in situ TOFMS analysis in the context of HiPIMS deposition process of metallic glass alloys, the same could apply to other deposition techniques, where ions play and important role such as:

  • Chemical Vapor Deposition, CVD and its plasma enhanced variants
  • Plasma enhanced heat-treatment, i.e. nitriding
  • Reactive sputter processes