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The DC magnetron sputtering systems (MSS) are widely applied in the microelectronic industries for thin film depositions. With their large installation volume in the related production lines, many efforts have been devoted to explore the possible refinements of the MSS structures that can improve the operational performance and reduce the target material consumption rates. Supported by qualitative and quantitative investigations, this paper describes a general guidance that can be applied to those commercial in-line DC MSS to control the magnetic field affecting the electron trajectories inside the sputterers. Results obtained from detailed studies on the systems with both single cylindrical magnetron and multiple rectangular magnetron structures showed that the proposed refinement scheme can increase the sputtering efficiency by over 25%, and the corresponding enhancements of substrate deposition rates are also to be expected. In addition, compared with those obtained without the refinements, the target erosion profiles with the refinements are more evenly spread out, thus reduction in the target material consumptions can also be expected.
Date of Publication: June 2010