Thin Film Substrates
Yesterday, AEM Deposition shares what is the e-beam evaporation for all of you. Today we will continue to talk about thermal evaporation.
One of the common methods of Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) is Thermal Evaporation. This is a form of Thin Film Deposition, which is a vacuum technology for applying coatings of pure materials to the surface of various objects. The coatings, also called films, are usually in the thickness range of angstroms to microns and can be a single material, or can be multiple materials in a layered structure.
The materials to be applied with Thermal Evaporation techniques can be pure atomic elements including both metals and non metals, or can be molecules such as oxides and nitrides. The object to be coated is referred to as the substrate, and can be any of a wide variety of things such as: semiconductor wafers, solar cells, optical components, or many other possibilities.
Thermal Evaporation involves heating a solid material inside a high vacuum chamber, taking it to a temperature which produces some vapor pressure. Inside the vacuum, even a relatively low vapor pressure is sufficient to raise a vapor cloud inside the chamber. This evaporated material now constitutes a vapor stream, which traverses the chamber and hits the substrate, sticking to it as a coating or film.
Since, in most instances of Thermal Evaporation processes the material is heated to its melting point and is liquid, it is usually located in the bottom of the chamber, often in some sort of upright crucible. The vapor then rises above this bottom source, and the substrates are held inverted in appropriate fixtures at the top of the chamber. The surfaces intended to be coated are thus facing down toward the heated source material to receive their coating.
Steps may have to be taken to assure film adhesion, as well as control various film properties as desired. Fortunately, Thermal Evaporation system design and methods can allow adjustability of a number of parameters in order to give process engineers the ability to achieve desired results for such variables as thickness, uniformity, adhesion strength, stress, grain structure, optical or electrical properties, etc.
One method, often referred to as Filament Evaporation, is a simple electrical resistive heat element, or filament. There are numerous different physical configurations of these resistive evaporation filaments, including many known as "boats" - essentially thin sheet metal pieces of suitable high temperature metals (such as tungsten) with formed indentations or troughs into which the material is placed. The filament source offers the safety of low voltage, although very high current is required, usually several hundred amps.
The other common heat source is an Electron Beam or E-Beam, and this is generally known as E-Beam Evaporation. This is certainly a more "high tech" approach to heating a material up, and involves some dangerous high voltage (usually 10,000 volts), so E-Beam systems always include extra safety features. The source itself is an E-Beam "gun", where a small and very hot filament boils off electrons which are then accelerated by the high voltage, forming an electron beam with considerable energy.
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