Applications of Ion Plating

Typical applications of the ion plating process include:

• Good adhesion between a film and substrate (for example, silver on steel for mirrors, silver on beryllium for diffusion bonding) (Ref 65)

• Electrical conductive layers (aluminum, silver, and gold) on plastics and semiconductors

• Low-shear solid film lubricants (for example, silver and gold) (Ref 107)

• Wear and abrasion-resistant coatings [for example, TiN, TiCxNy, (Ti-Al)CxNy, Ti0.5Al0.5N] on cutting tools (Ref 74), dies, molds, and jewelry

• Decorative coatings (TiN yields gold-colored deposit, TiCxNy yields rose-colored deposit, TiC yields black deposit, ZrN yields brass-colored deposit) applied to hardware, jewelry, guns (Ref 108), and cutlery

• Corrosion protection [aluminum on uranium (Ref 109); mild steel (Ref 110, 111) and titanium; carbon and tantalum on biological implants]

• Deposition of electrically conductive diffusion barriers (for example, HfN and TiN on semiconductor devices)

• Deposition of insulating films (for example, SiO2 and ZrO2)

• Deposition of optically clear, electrically conducting layers (indium-tin-oxide) (Ref 112)

• Deposition of permeation barriers on webs (Ref 113, 114, 115)

Ion plating has also been used to coat very large structural parts with aluminum for corrosion protection (replacing cadmium) (Ref 104).

Ion plating provides a means of modifying film properties that does not exist in other PVD techniques. This gives it a place in the range of PVD deposition techniques available for "surface engineering." Often the applications of ion plating are very substrate-specific, so that fixturing is a very important consideration in coating uniformity, unit cost, and cost-of-ownership for a specific application. The ability to devise an optimal fixture design is often the key to a successful process.

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