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Versatile, Turnkey Solutions for Magnetron Sputtering


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Denton offers a number of magnetron configurations to meet different application requirements. Magnetron sputtering is a highly versatile thin film deposition technique for coating films with excellent adhesion and high density. Magnetron sputtering is a plasma-based coating process where a magnetically confined plasma is created near the surface of a target material. Positively charged energetic ions from the plasma collide with the negatively charged target material, and atoms from the target are ejected or “sputtered”, which then deposit on a substrate.

Magnetron sputtering illustration

Denton Vacuum offers systems that are configurable to support a variety of sputtering approaches, each has its own benefits and uses. For instance, the Discovery magnetron sputtering platform provides a versatile, turnkey solution for confocal, planar, and inverted cylindrical sputtering geometries. It is highly configurable and can be tailored to meet specific requirements.

There are three sputtering platforms that can be configured with multiple magnetron sources:

  • Discovery Confocal: this flexible and multi-source option accommodates multiple magnetrons with a tri-axis adjustment of radius, distance, and angular presentation to provide <+/-5% coating uniformity.
  • Discovery V: a high rate, highly uniform deposition module, optimized for integration on the Versa platform. Configured with a large area planar magnetron. Provides highest productivity with <+/-2% coating uniformity.
  • Discovery Isoflux: provides best-in-class uniformity on flat and curved substrate thanks to Denton’s patented inverted cylindrical magnetron technology. Uniformity as low as <+/-0.25% on 200mm wafers can be achieved.

Denton’s Discovery sputter deposition platforms

Discovery ConfocalDiscovery VDiscovery Isoflux
Magnetron SourceDiscovery 200: UP to four
4" diameter confocal sources
Discovery 300: UP to three 6"
diameter confocal sources
12″ diameter cathodeCylindrical cathode
Sputtering TypeMetal and Reactive SputteringMetal and Reactive SputteringMetal and Reactive Sputtering
Power SupplyDC/RF/Pulsed DCDC/RF/Pulsed DCDC/mid frequency AC
Substate SizeDiscovery 200: Up to 200mm
Discovery 300: Up to 300mm
Up to 200mmUp to 200mm
Substrate BiasRRF bias with dedicated power
supply and auto matching
RRF bias with dedicated power
supply and auto matching
RRF bias with dedicated power
supply and auto matching
Plasma Emission MonitorYesNoYes
Coating Uniformity<+/-5%<+/-2%<+/-0.25%

Cathode Configurations

There is also a variety of cathode options including planar (round or rectangular), confocal, and Isoflux inverted cylindrical. Again, depending on your desired outcome, a specific cathode should be chosen.

  • Planar Cathode (round or rectangular): the cathode is mounted directly above the substrate. This configuration offers tight uniformity on one side of the substrate during sputtering for properties such as film thickness, sheet resistance and refractive index. It also offers improved yield, good lift-off capability and a high deposition rate.
planar cathode
  • Confocal Cathode: multiple cathodes are positioned confocally to the substrate. This configuration allows you to deposit multiple materials without breaking vacuum and can also help you minimize target cost and optimize material transfer efficiency.
Confocal Sputter System
  • Isoflux Inverted Cylindrical Cathode: the substrate is placed on the inside of the cathode, and it is then sputtered on all sides, from all directions. This configuration offers excellent thickness control and precision, particularly for substrates with curved surfaces, which are used in precision optics.
curved substrate

Front-End Options

There are multiple front-end configurations available for the Discovery sputter deposition platform. These include single wafer load lock, cassette load lock, and transfer module – cluster configuration. Based on your throughput requirements, choosing the right one is important. Each configuration will yield different results:

  • Single wafer load lock: a maximum of approximately 3 wafers per hour, 23,000 wafers per year
  • Cassette load lock: a maximum of approximately 24 wafers per hour, 185,000 wafers per year
  • Transfer module – cluster configuration: a maximum of approximately 250 wafers per hour, 2 million wafers per year
front end options

Magnetron sputtering is often chosen for the deposition of metallic and insulating coatings that have specific optical or electrical properties. Denton has ongoing internal R&D programs to help advance the state-of-the art in both metallic and reactive sputtering.

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