Ever heard of sputter deposition? Probably not, unless you work in manufacturing or studied engineering. But I guarantee you’re definitely familiar with some of the hundreds of important, everyday objects that are made possible thanks to sputter deposition.
Sputter deposition is a physical vapour deposition (PVD) technique. Essentially, it’s a way of coating an object with a thin, uniform layer of material. Sputter deposition works by forcing molecules from a source material (like aluminum or nickel) onto the surface of an object (known as the substrate) using a powerful magnetic field. There are a variety of PVD techniques for different applications, but sputter deposition is one of the most common.
Now that you know the basics, let’s look at some essential items that use sputter deposition.
Think of all the different glass coatings we use in our everyday lives. There’s the anti-reflective coating on your eyeglasses, the tinted glass on your car, and the Low-E coatings that make your window panes more energy-efficient. How did they get there? Magnetron sputtering!
Just about every cell phone on earth now comes with a touch screen. We often think of touch screens as a simple piece of glass, but they’re really a lot more complicated than that.
Touch screens are made from two sheets of material coated with a resistive substance, like indium tin oxide (ITO). When you press down on the screen, the top sheet touches the bottom sheet and the resistive substances meet. This tells the touch screen control circuit where on the screen you are touching.
Those resistive surfaces are made possible thanks to a uniform sputtering of metal.
Solar technology uses something called photovoltaic materials to generate energy. These materials can absorb light photons and release electrons, converting light into energy at an atomic level.
Recently, solar technology has been moving in the direction of thin film solar panels rather than the traditional, rigid panels you’re used to seeing on rooftops. Thin film solar panels use a thin coating of photovoltaic materials, which allows for a new generation of thin-flexible solar panels. This is made possible thanks to —you guessed it — magnetron sputtering.
Want to learn more about sputter deposition? Check out an expert on sputter deposition — Angstrom Engineering is one located right here in Kitchener, Ontario.