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Evaporative ion plating: process mechanisms and optimization

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2 Author(s)
Fancey, K.S. ; Dept. of Eng. Design & Manuf., Hull Univ., UK ; Matthews, Allan

The basic discharge mechanisms pertinent to ion plating process are reviewed and some recent findings are highlighted, relating in particular to thermionically enhanced ion plating with an evaporative vapor source. By enhancing the discharge, the cathode sheath can approach collisionless conditions, which allows most of the energy to be transported to the substrate by ions. The energy distribution is also improved, this being significant if a critical energy E* is thought to be required in order to achieve high-quality coatings. It is suggested that E* is about 40 to 70 eV, and that higher bombarding energies may not necessarily improve coating quality, this being alternatively achievable by increasing the ionization efficiency. The role of metal vapors is outlined with reference to evidence from enhanced discharges that clusters of metal atoms exist in the vapor phase and that most of the ion current is transported to the substrate by the metal species. Further practical aspects are discussed such as the spatial distribution of bombardment intensity, which is shown to decrease exponentially with distance from the thermionic emitter used for discharge enhancement. It is suggested that positioning the thermionic emitter in close proximity to the vapor source will provide a more consistent ratio between energetic bombardment effects and vapor arrival rates throughout the deposition volume

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Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 6 )