Vacuum environments are typically utilized in depositing thin films.
The vacuum environment has proven to be a benefit when it comes to sputter deposition systems. Vacuum is typically an environment where the gas pressure is less than ambient, making it perfect for sputtering to occur. Plasma is essentially a gaseous environment where there are enough electrons and ions for electrical conductivity to occur.
Vacuum Environments Allow for Range and Flexibility
Vacuum metallizing refers to the deposition of a film within a vacuum – or low pressure plasma – environment. Typically, the term is applied to processes that deposit molecules individually like physical vapor deposition or low-pressure chemical vapor deposition processes. When it comes to CVD processes, the material that is being deposited tends to come from a chemical precursor species that decomposes after reduction or thermal decomposition through a heated surface. All of these processes function within an environment where vacuum coating systems can thrive.
CVD and Sputtering Systems
In many cases, the material that is being deposited will react with the gas environment or a codeposited species to form a film of a compound such as a nitride, carbide, or an oxide. When it comes to CVD processing, the use of a plasma allows there to be fragmentation of the chemical vapor precursor in the vapor phase which then proceeds to allow for lower temperatures than with thermal activation alone. Many sputter deposition systems utilize this method in order to produce a fine thin film. Furthermore, the production of these thin films have greatly increased throughout the years.