Summary
In physics, sputtering is a phenomenon in which microscopic particles of a solid material are ejected from its surface, after the material is itself bombarded by energetic particles of a plasma or gas. It occurs naturally in outer space, and can be an unwelcome source of wear in precision components. However, the fact that it can be made to act on extremely fine layers of material is utilised in science and industry—there, it is used to perform precise etching, carry out analytical techniques, and deposit thin film layers in the manufacture of optical coatings, semiconductor devices and nanotechnology products. It is a physical vapor deposition technique. When energetic ions collide with atoms of a target material, an exchange of momentum takes place between them. These ions, known as "incident ions", set off collision cascades in the target. Such cascades can take many paths; some recoil back toward the surface of the target. If a collision cascade reaches the surface of the target, and its remaining energy is greater than the target's surface binding energy, an atom will be ejected. This process is known as "sputtering". If the target is thin (on an atomic scale), the collision cascade can reach through to its back side; the atoms ejected in this fashion are said to escape the surface binding energy "in transmission". The average number of atoms ejected from the target per incident ion is called the "sputter yield". The sputter yield depends on several things: the angle at which ions collide with the surface of the material, how much energy they strike it with, their masses, the masses of the target atoms, and the target's surface binding energy. If the target possesses a crystal structure, the orientation of its axes with respect to the surface is an important factor. The ions that cause sputtering come from a variety of sources—they can come from plasma, specially constructed ion sources, particle accelerators, outer space (e.g. solar wind), or radioactive materials (e.g. alpha radiation).
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Related concepts (30)
Plasma (physics)
Plasma () is one of four fundamental states of matter, characterized by the presence of a significant portion of charged particles in any combination of ions or electrons. It is the most abundant form of ordinary matter in the universe, being mostly associated with stars, including the Sun. Extending to the rarefied intracluster medium and possibly to intergalactic regions, plasma can be artificially generated by heating a neutral gas or subjecting it to a strong electromagnetic field.
Thin film
A thin film is a layer of material ranging from fractions of a nanometer (monolayer) to several micrometers in thickness. The controlled synthesis of materials as thin films (a process referred to as deposition) is a fundamental step in many applications. A familiar example is the household mirror, which typically has a thin metal coating on the back of a sheet of glass to form a reflective interface. The process of silvering was once commonly used to produce mirrors, while more recently the metal layer is deposited using techniques such as sputtering.
Sputtering
In physics, sputtering is a phenomenon in which microscopic particles of a solid material are ejected from its surface, after the material is itself bombarded by energetic particles of a plasma or gas. It occurs naturally in outer space, and can be an unwelcome source of wear in precision components. However, the fact that it can be made to act on extremely fine layers of material is utilised in science and industry—there, it is used to perform precise etching, carry out analytical techniques, and deposit thin film layers in the manufacture of optical coatings, semiconductor devices and nanotechnology products.
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Related lectures (47)
Sputtering: Ion Target Interactions
Examines ion-target interactions in PVD sputtering processes, covering compound deposition, surface damage, and factors influencing target ejection rates.
Sputtering in CMi
Covers the operation of a cluster sputtering tool and the process of changing sputter targets.
Thin Film Growth: Atoms Arrival and Adhesion
Delves into thin film growth, adhesion, crystal structure, and stresses.
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