Photonics Dictionary

sputtering target

A sputtering target is a solid material used in the process of physical vapor deposition (PVD), specifically sputtering. Sputtering targets are typically made of metals, metal alloys, or compounds and serve as the source material from which atoms or ions are ejected during the sputtering process to deposit thin films onto a substrate surface.

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The sputtering target is mounted inside a vacuum chamber in proximity to the substrate, and it is bombarded by high-energy ions or atoms generated from a plasma within the chamber. These energetic particles dislodge atoms or molecules from the surface of the target material through a process known as sputtering. The ejected atoms or molecules then travel through the vacuum chamber and deposit onto the surface of the substrate, forming a thin film with properties dictated by the composition of the target material.

Sputtering targets come in various shapes and sizes, depending on the specific requirements of the deposition process and the geometry of the vacuum chamber. Common shapes include discs, rectangles, and cylinders, and targets can range in size from a few centimeters to tens of centimeters in diameter.

The choice of sputtering target material depends on the desired properties of the thin film being deposited. Different materials offer unique characteristics, such as electrical conductivity, optical properties, mechanical properties, and chemical reactivity. For example, common sputtering target materials include pure metals like aluminum, copper, and gold, as well as metal alloys and compound materials such as oxides, nitrides, and carbides.

Sputtering targets are critical components in sputtering equipment and are essential for the production of thin films used in various industries, including semiconductor manufacturing, electronics, optics, magnetic storage media, and coatings for automotive and architectural applications.
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