Titanium and aluminum targets have been reactively sputtered in Ar +O2 or Ar +N2 gas mixtures in order to systematically investigate the effect of reduced hysteresis in reactive high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) as compared to other sputtering techniques utilizing low discharge target power density (e.g., direct current or pulsed direct current mid-frequency magnetron sputtering) operated at the same average discharge power. We found that the negative slope of the flow rate of the reactive gas gettered by the sputtered target material as a function of the reactive gas partial pressure is clearly lower in the case of HiPIMS. This results in a lower critical pumping speed, which implies a reduced hysteresis. We argue that the most important effect explaining the observed behavior is covering of the reacted areas of the target by the returning ionized metal, effectively lowering the target coverage at a given partial pressure. This explanation is supported by a calculation using an analytical model of reactive HiPIMS with time and space averaging (developed by us).
Return of target material ions leads to a reduced hysteresis in reactive high power impulse magnetron sputtering: Experiment
Jiří Čapek, Stanislav Kadlec; Return of target material ions leads to a reduced hysteresis in reactive high power impulse magnetron sputtering: Experiment. J. Appl. Phys. 7 May 2017; 121 (17): 171911. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4977816
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