APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Electrochromic windows
- Data storage devices
- Coatings for automotive and aerospace industries
- Other applications where dense metal and metal compound films are needed
- Delivers macroparticle-free films
- High deposition rate
- Broadens range of applications for arc-deposited films
- Scalable – highly suitable for large area deposition
- Lower substrate temperature than most other deposition techniques
Berkeley Lab researchers André Anders and Jonathan Kolbeck have designed a novel cathodic arc deposition system that uses strategically placed magnets to filter from the plasma stream unwanted macroparticles that might otherwise contaminate the surface of deposited thin films.
The Berkeley Lab researchers designed a system that uses carefully arranged shields and permanent magnets to divert virtually all the macroparticles from the plasma stream before it reaches the substrate. The shape of the magnetic fields is determined by the interactions of magnets placed at the cathode source and behind the substrate, as well as the location of blocking plates, called “island vanes,” in the path of the plasma stream. These plates are positioned at the point where the two interacting magnetic fields are weakest – the “magnetic island.” Tests show that these systems deposited thin films that were free of macroparticles.
Conventional cathodic arc devices that remove macroparticles include 90° filters using electromagnets to steer the plasma around a corner, while the unwanted particles continue in straight line, or arrays of magnetic plates forming a venetian blind filter that similarly divert the macroparticles. However, because unacceptably large amounts of particles reflected by these structures eventually bounce onto the targeted substrate, these systems fall short of requirements for many thin film applications, especially those that require large area coverage such as electrochromic window coatings or photovoltaic panels. The Berkeley Lab system has the added advantage of operating efficiently with substrates at elevated or at room temperature.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Bench-scale prototype
STATUS: Issued U. S. Patent 9683285. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
REFERENCE NUMBER: 2013-071