What Are Sputtering Targets Used For?
Sputtering targets are crucial raw materials employed in the fabrication of films using Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) technology. In this process, high-speed ion beams bombard the solid surface, causing atoms to leave the material and form thin films. This technology finds primary applications in various fields, including integrated circuits, semiconductor displays, semiconductor chips, photovoltaic solar energy, storage devices, low-emissivity glass in the building/automotive glass industry, and decorative coatings.
Application of Sputtering Targets in the Building/Automotive Glass Industry
Modern architecture often incorporates extensive glass facades, providing brighter spaces and expansive views. While this enhances the aesthetic appeal, the increased use of glass in buildings raises concerns about elevated energy consumption due to the transfer of heat through the glass, especially when compared to surrounding walls. Over the past few decades, Low-E (Low Emissivity) coated glass has gained widespread use in the field of architecture.
Low-E glass, also known as low emissivity glass, is a product featuring multiple layers of metal or other compound coatings on the glass surface. The coating layers exhibit characteristics of high transmittance for visible light and high reflectance for mid-to-far infrared radiation. This imparts superior thermal insulation and excellent transparency compared to regular glass and traditional coated glass used in construction.
Easy-to-clean glass (coating imparts hydrophobic properties to the glass surface).
Electrochromic windows (stacked electrochromic layer, responsive to light intensity).
Photovoltaic windows (generate electricity through glass windows).
These applications showcase the versatility of sputtering targets in contributing to advanced functionalities in architectural and automotive glass, addressing concerns related to energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.
Hydrophobic Windshields:Hydrophobic windshields are designed to repel water, enhancing visibility and safety during adverse weather conditions.
Sunlight Control Glass:Sunlight control glass is employed to isolate and protect against high temperatures and ultraviolet damage from the external environment, contributing to enhanced comfort within vehicles.
Anti-Reflection Glass:Anti-reflection glass reduces glare on the dashboard, improving driving visibility and safety.
Materials: Ag (Silver), Al (Aluminum), AZO (Aluminum-doped Zinc Oxide), C (Graphite), Cr (Chromium), Cu (Copper), ITO (Tin-doped Indium Oxide), ZnO (Zinc Oxide), Li (Lithium), Nb (Niobium), NiCr (Nickel Chromium), Si (Pure Silicon), SiAl (Silicon Aluminum), Sn (Tin), SS (Stainless Steel), Ti (Titanium), TiOx (Titanium Oxide), TiOxNb (Niobium Dioxide), T (Tungsten), Zn (Zinc), ZnAl (Zinc Aluminum), ZnSn (Zinc Tin).
Application of sputtering targets in flat panel displays
The flat-panel display industry is a major application area for high-purity sputtering targets. Flat-panel displays include Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD), Plasma Displays (PDP), Organic Light-Emitting Diode Displays (OLED), and touch panel (TP) display products developed based on LCD. Coating is a fundamental step in the modern flat-panel display industry, and almost all types of flat-panel display devices utilize a significant amount of coating materials to form various functional films. The primary PVD coating materials used are sputtering targets.
In the production process of flat-panel display panels, the display glass substrate undergoes multiple sputter coating steps to form ITO glass. Subsequently, it undergoes further coating and processing for the production of LCD panels, PDP panels, OLED panels, etc. For touch screens, additional processing is required to form electrodes on ITO glass, followed by assembly with protective screens and other components. To achieve functions such as anti-reflection and anti-glare in flat-panel display products, corresponding film layers can be added during the coating process.
Application of Sputtering Targets in Semiconductor Chips
The fabrication of semiconductor chips involves three main stages: silicon wafer manufacturing, wafer fabrication, and chip packaging. In both the wafer fabrication and chip packaging stages, high-purity metal sputtering targets are crucially required.
The types of metal sputtering targets used in the semiconductor chip industry include high-purity targets such as copper, tantalum, aluminum, titanium, cobalt, and tungsten, as well as alloy targets like nickel-platinum, tungsten-titanium, among others.
Copper and tantalum targets are commonly used together. With the ongoing trend towards smaller process nodes in wafer manufacturing, the demand for copper as a wiring material is steadily increasing, indicating sustained growth in the demand for copper and tantalum targets.
Aluminum and titanium targets are often used together. In areas requiring technology nodes above 110nm, such as automotive electronic chips, to ensure stability and interference resistance, a significant amount of aluminum and titanium targets are still required.