Magnetron sputtering developed rapidly in the 1980s for semiconductor, hard coating, and architectural glass applications. While the general operating principles were well known, subtle issues relating to cathode material, operating parameters, and deposition processes were only empirically understood. A sequence of magnetron measurements is described, which helps develop a more general understanding. The plasma is mostly conventional but is strongly perturbed by the large fluxes of energetic, neutral atoms sputtered from the cathode, which alter the gas dynamics as well as the discharge impedance. These studies have led to practical innovations, such as collimation and ionization of the sputtered atoms, which have been widely used for semiconductor manufacturing applications.
Note: This paper is part of the 2020 Special Topic Collection Celebrating 40 Years of the AVS Peter Mark Award.
Stephen M. Rossnagel; Magnetron sputtering. J. Vac. Sci. Technol. A 1 December 2020; 38 (6): 060805. https://doi.org/10.1116/6.0000594
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