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Enhanced Sputter Targets

Customization Brings Advantages

Materion produces "enhanced" sputter target designs that provide improved performance, increased target lives, and ultimately lower costs to our customers.  The nature of the particular enhancement is tailor-made depending upon the sputter target material, the cathode design, and the specific customer requirements.  Materion is a world leader in the customization of sputtering  targets, and is in the process of developing a number of new designs and approaches that will further enhance our target offerings.

Gold-tin TargetsSavings on Precious Metal

For precious metal sputter targets, the enhanced designs emphasize "metal thrifting," or reducing the amount of precious metal in the target while still maintaining the target sputter life.  This is accomplished by removing material from the areas which are not sputtered and sculpting (or contouring) the target surface.  In practice, the design of these targets is rather complex since a number of factors must be taken into account. They include deducing the enhancement from an analysis of the wear profile of the surface of a spent target, discerning how the wear profile developed over the life of the target, and understanding the geometry of the cathode and the adjacent shielding. 

Materion can draw from its library of successful target designs, but it is extremely helpful to profile a spent target from the actual cathode that will be used in the sputter process.  This will help pinpoint differences in the magnet pack, process conditions and the shielding that can impact the optimal design of the wear track.  With this approach, target life can be increased through judicious modifications to the amount of material in the wear track of the target.

New Generation of Cathode Enhancements

Optimizing target designs can be repetitious and time consuming. It also necessitates conservative enhancements due to uncertainties in the behavior of the plasma on a sculpted target surface and the need to take into account the proximity of the dark space shielding.  Consequently, the amount of precious metal that can be thrifted, and the subsequent increase in target life, is strongly dependent upon the type of cathode.  To overcome these issues, Materion is collaborating with a number of OEMs to develop a new generation of cathode enhancements which will allow for much more aggressive enhancements and far fewer design iterations.  These new designs are currently in testing and will be available in 2016.

Non-Precious Metal Targets

For non-precious metal targets, the enhancements are designed to improve target performance, rather than for thrifting material. A good example of such enhancements is reducing particulation.  Certain material, e.g. Tungsten-Titanium (W-Ti), is known to be highly prone to particulation during sputtering.  One of the most common underlying causes for particulation is redeposition of sputtered material on the target surface.  Materion has developed target designs that are proven to minimize the amount of redeposition by manipulating the plasma, and ensuring that if redeposition does occur, it does not lead to particulation.  These innovative designs have made Materion an industry- leader in the supply of W-Ti targets for back side metallization.

For more information on our family of targets, contact David VanHeerden, Applications Engineering Manager, at