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Reactive HiPIMS Process Control

 

Stable reactive sputtering operation:

  • Wide process window
  • Consistent pulse form with different reactive gas flows
  • Maintains stable stoichiometry
  • Consistent power to deposition rate relationship

We have recently implemented a new reactive HiPIMS process control into our HiPSTER HiPIMS series, which is a simple and cost effective way to stabilize the sputtering process in the transition zone during reactive HiPIMS. Our reactive process control allows for a wide process window of reactive gas flow with maintained stoichiometric film composition at high deposition rates.

The reactive HiPIMS process control is based on the important discovery that there is a clear change in the pulse current characteristics when increasing the reactive gas flow, and thereby moving the process point from metal mode to poisoned mode. An example is shown in the first figure, where the peak current increases as the reactive gas flow rate increases.

We can now pick a peak current associated with the desired high-rate operation point in the transition mode and set it as the preferred current in the HiPSTER HiPIMS pulser. By using the built-in process control, the HiPSTER will maintain stable operation during the entire deposition at the selected process point by automatically controlling the pulse frequency. In the second and third figures it is seen how the current can be stabilized in the transition mode for a large range of reactive flow rates by activating the process control in the HiPSTER unit.

For more information on our reactive HiPIMS process control please read: Process stabilization by peak current regulation in reactive high-power impulse magnetron sputtering of hafnium nitride, T. Shimizu, M. Villamayor, D. Lundin, and U. Helmersson, J. Phys. D. Appl. Phys. 49, 1–18 (2016), or contact us directly.

   

HiPIMS pulse current vs reactive gas flow rate