Advantages and Limitations of Plasma Based Ion Plating

Plasma-based ion plating is the most commonly used ion plating configuration. Advantages of plasma-based ion plating (Ref 1, 2, 106) include:

• Excellent surface-covering ability ("throwing power") under the proper conditions

• Ability to have in situ cleaning of the substrate surface

• Ability to introduce heat and defects into the first few monolayers of the surface to enhance nucleation, reaction, and diffusion

• Ability to obtain good adhesion in many otherwise difficult-to-deposit systems

• Enhancement of reactive deposition process (activation of reactive gases, bombardment-enhanced chemical reaction, and adsorption of reactive species)

• Flexibility in tailoring film properties by controlling bombardment conditions (for example, morphology, density, and residual stress)

• Equipment requirements are equivalent to those of sputter deposition

• Source of depositing material can be from thermal vaporization, sputtering, or chemical vapor precursor gases

Limitations of plasma-based ion plating include:

• Many processing parameters must be controlled

• Contamination can be released from surfaces and "activated" in the plasma to become an important process variable

• To bombard growing films of electrically insulating materials, the surfaces must either attain a self-bias or must be biased with an rf potential

• Processing and "position equivalency" can be very dependent on substrate geometry and fixturing (that is, obtaining uniform bombardment and reactive species availability over a complex surface may be difficult)

• Bombarding gas species can be incorporated in the substrate surface and deposited film if too high a bombarding energy is used

• Substrate heating can be excessive

• High residual compressive growth stresses can be introduced into the film layer

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