Deposition of Diamond-Like Carbon Films

In the early to mid-1990’s, DIAMONEX pioneered the use of ion beam processes for the deposition of diamond-like carbon (DLC) films for sunwear, other optical coating applications such as barcode scanner windows, and magnetic heads. A major ion beam equipment OEM supplied DIAMONEX’s ion beam process technology in systems used for depositing thin DLC films on magnetic heads – in the magnetic recording industry this became known as the "DIAMONEX Process" for DLC films.

Commercially available grided ion beam sources operating on reactive deposition gases such as hydrocarbons were used in these manufacturing processes. It was found that these ion sources required extensive maintenance due to material build-up on the internal surfaces of the plasma chamber and on the grids. This build-up resulted in changes to the beam output characteristics over time. These problems still exist with the most recent generation of grided ion sources that are available today.

The CD Source – A Gridless Ion Source

The CD SOURCE was designed to overcome these problems associated with the deposition of DLC and related films in DIAMONEX’s own internal production environment. The CD SOURCE is a gridless ion source that provides nearly maintenance-free operation for extended periods of time via the elimination of grids, and a variety of other unique design elements. The result is that the CD SOURCE operates in a very stable mode on a variety of reactive process gases, and over long run times with minimal restrictions. Today, many manufacturers in the hard disk industry run the CD SOURCE with hydrocarbon gases to deposit DLC films in processes requiring over 160 hours of continuous operation.

Now, DIAMONEX offers the CD SOURCE technology in different configurations (retrofit flange mount, internal mount and platforms), depending on the requirements of the end-user.

AZoM - metals, ceramics, polymers and composites - The dual CD Source power supply from DIAMONEX

CD SOURCE Retrofit Systems

DIAMONEX CD SOURCE Retrofit Systems have been designed to meet the demanding requirements of ultra-thin carbon overcoats for current and next-generation magnetic recording hard disks. The hardware is designed with manufacturing environments in mind for continuous operation over extended run times. The Retrofit Systems are robust and are readily integrated into existing hard disk manufacturing sputtering systems. A Retrofit System is available for every major OEM platform with an installed base of manufacturing tools.

Components of a typical Retrofit System kit for a common disk manufacturing tool are shown in the photographs. The Retrofit System kit includes a vacuum chamber, two opposing CD SOURCE’s for simultaneous coating of ultra-thin DLC films on both sides of a magnetic disks, and an optimized power supply to drive the sources. The retrofit package shown includes a reduced size chamber and footprint along with the newest introduction: the DIAMONEX High Voltage Ion Source (HVIS). This retro-fit ion beam kit is capable of providing continuous DLC films <40 Angstroms thick for next-generation magnetic media. The HVIS is on the technology roadmap of many disk manufacturers for high-density continuous carbon overcoats with superior performance properties. The CD SOURCE can also be integrated into existing disk manufacturing tools for surface cleaning and texturing.

Complete Ion Beam Platforms

During the inception of the company, DIAMONEX purchased ion beam manufacturing systems from several major OEMs for internal manufacturing purposes. After acquiring several OEM systems, it became clear that DIAMONEX’s requirements for ion beam DLC process equipment were outpacing commercially available OEM hardware and support capabilities. Therefore, DIAMONEX focused substantial resources to establish a strong vacuum equipment engineering group to design and manufacture ion beam process equipment for internal use. This group built strong relationships with leading vacuum equipment vendors. These relationships developed into partnerships for the DIAMONEX Ion Beam Systems business.

Success to Date

As of year 2002, the group has designed and built over 60 vacuum deposition systems for internal use and supplied over 25 CD SOURCE Retrofit Systems for hard disk manufacturers globally.

Today the DIAMONEX CD SOURCE is now offered as part of a complete load-locked manufacturing platform for a range of applications in R&D and manufacturing. The system is versatile and can be configured to provide Direct Deposition of thin films along with Ion Beam Cleaning, Etching and IBAD processes. The system can handle up to 200-mm wafers and delivers excellent uniformity of ± 0.3% over a 200 mm diameter substrate with a run-to-run film thickness repeatability of ± 0.5%. The system has the capability of running multiple process gases simultaneously, allowing engineers to fine-tune film properties on the atomic scale.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Morgan Advanced Materials.

For more information on this source please visit Morgan Advanced Materials.


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