Techne – Ion Beam Deposition

The Techne is our thin film deposition tool that produces high quality optical coatings with layer control at the angstrom level using an ion beam sputtering process. Optics are loaded onto substrate holders attached to a planetary fixture on the system door. Recipes are programmed and run on the touch screen allowing this fully automated system the capability to deposit the most challenging optical designs.

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High Performance Optics Realized

Features

The Techne can produce many different oxides such as SiO2, Ta2O5, Nb2O5, and TiO2.  Thin films are produced using a physical vapor deposition method where an ion beam reactively sputters a target material in an oxygen background. The ion beam, sputter target and substrate fixture geometry have been optimized for high deposition rate and superior uniformity.  Typical deposition rates are 2 to 5 Å/s depending upon the material, with uniformities of 0.5% or better.

Techne – simple ion beam deposition

The deposition process begins in an ultra high vacuum environment designed to minimize coating impurities and defects. Selected target materials are bonded to 35 cm  diameter stainless steel backing plate which are mounted to a turret that both provides water cooling and rotates the material. We direct our 16 cm radio frequency (RF) ion beam source at the target to sputter the material while the turret motion provides deposition stability and promotes target utilization. Sputter targets easily last 2X longer than those that are not rotated.

Control for Techne is established with a touch screen interfaced to several industry standard programmable logic controllers (PLCs). The software allows for control of individual items on the system, examination of current conditions and review of event history. Recipes are intuitively programmed and edited on the system. Time or thickness files can be transfered via USB drive and over 400 unique layers are possible.

Accurate layer control is achieved using a dedicated timer where layer termination is managed within 100 ms. Termination signals from a quartz crystal micro-balance (QCM) or optical monitor system (OMS) can also be used as trigger points providing unprecedented accuracy for the most demanding optical devices.

Other advantages for this system include:

  • The small vacuum chamber volume on the Techne promotes a quick turn around required for production batch coating. The system routinely achieves a pressure in the 10-6 Torr range in less than 30 minutes from atmospheric pressure.
  • Quartz lamp heaters are optimized to heat up the system interior removing unwanted water vapor.
  • An assist source can be added for ion beam assisted deposition (IBAD) applications. The assist source will promote uniformity, material packing density and reduce compressive stresses in the deposited coating.
  • Targets and fixtures can be removed or changed in minutes, maximizing system uptime.
  • A rear door is standard, allowing for removal of heavily coated items for proper clean room protocol.