Advancing Process Capabilities of Magnetron Sputter Tools

Over the last couple of years, technologists at Oxford Instruments have been developing the process capabilities of magnetron sputter tools, accentuating the goals of performance and versatility which strengthen the hardware design.

This initiative has considerably expanded the company’s process portfolio for the deposition of dielectric materials, diffusion barriers, adhesion layers, and metal contact layers.

The innovative process capabilities and the enhanced hardware features needed to make them possible are proving useful in the development of customized MEMS devices and high power lasers.

Deposition of Metal Contact Layers

PlasmaPro System400

Figure 1. PlasmaPro System400

The deposition of gold, platinum and titanium for metal contacts displays the multi-material capability of the PlasmaPro System400 (figure 1) to meet the needs for p-type and n-type interfaces.

Oxford Instruments now provides reactively deposited low and high conductivity TiN, both as a diffusion barrier and contact. Higher vacuum performance provides a significant advantage to the materials properties of reactive metals such as aluminium and titanium.

This combined with the reduced water vapour levels in the cryo-pumped configuration means, for instance, that aluminium with higher reflectivity can be deposited to a greater thicknesses than previously possible.

Silicon-based photo-voltaic devices

Figure 2. Silicon-based photo-voltaic devices

Studies will shortly begin on the value of seed layers to this and other island forming metals. With the help of European funding earmarked for studying the deposition of silicon and silicon multi-layers, the research team at Oxford Instruments studied TCO's for the front contact in silicon-based photovoltaic devices and high-temperature deposition of nano-crystalline silicon for absorber layers (Figure 2).

Magnetron Sputtering

In order to accommodate thin and thick layers of silicon oxy-nitride, the tool performance envelope has been further widened. These layers were reactively deposited by means of pulsed DC magnetron sputtering.

This is a precursor to the study of other metal oxy-nitrides. The tool can also deposit high quality nanometer thick dielectrics via post deposition oxidation of nanometer thick metal film.


The PlasmaPro System400 is a multi-material sputter tool, and it has been developed to meet the requirements of low volume, high performance manufacturing in applications that range from contact metalisation to high k dielectrics and seed layers for nanotechnology.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology.

For more information on this source, please visit Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology.


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