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Also known as cathode sputtering.
The ejection of atoms or groups of atoms from the surface of the cathode of a vacuum tube as the result of heavy-ion impact.
The use of this process to deposit a thin layer of metal on a glass, plastic, metal, or other surface in vacuum.


The ejection of material from a solid or liquid surface following the impact of energetic ions, atoms, or molecules. Sputtering is the basis of a large variety of methods for the synthesis and analysis of materials.

Sputtering can be classified according to the mode of energy loss of the incident (primary) particle. Nuclear stopping involves billiard ball-like atomic collisions in which a significant momentum transfer occurs; it dominates for incident ion energies below about 1–2 keV per nucleon. Electronic stopping involves collisions in which little momentum is transferred, but significant electronic excitation is caused in the target; it dominates for energies above about 10 keV per nucleon.

Sputtering has also been classified into physical and chemical sputtering. Physical sputtering involves a transfer of kinetic energy from the incident particle to the surface atoms leading to ejection, while chemical sputtering occurs when the incident species react chemically with the target surface leading to the formation of a volatile reaction product which evaporates thermally from the surface.

Sputtering of complex materials—metal alloys, inorganic and organic compounds and polymers, and minerals—can produce complex results. The relative efficiencies with which different elemental species are ejected following ion impact can differ, giving rise to preferential sputtering. When preferential sputtering occurs, the species sputtered with the lower efficiency accumulates to a higher concentration at the surface. Subsurface collisions of the incident ion cause atomic motion leading to atomic mixing of surface and subsurface layers over the ion penetration depth. Chemical bonds can be broken, and sometimes new bonds can be formed. Sputtering of solids which have multiple phases, or which are polycrystalline, leads to the development of surface roughness due to the differences in sputtering yields between different regions. See Ion beam mixing

Sputtering is widely used in the manufacture of semiconductor devices; sputter deposition is used to deposit thin films with a high degree of control by sputtering material from a target onto a substrate; sputter etching is used to remove unwanted films in a reversal of this process. Reactive ion etching is a chemical sputtering process in which chemically active sputtering species form volatile compounds with the target material leading to significantly higher etch rates and great selectivity. For example, fluorine-containing compounds etch silicon rapidly by forming volatile silicon tetrafluoride but do not etch aluminum or other metals used to make electrical interconnections between devices on a semiconductor chip because the metal fluorides are involatile. Sputter etching and reactive ion etching have the useful advantage of being anisotropic—that is, they etch only in one direction so that very fine surface features can be delineated. See Integrated circuits

In materials characterization, sputtering is used to remove surface material controllably, allowing in-depth concentration profiles of chemical composition to be determined with a surface-sensitive sampling technique.


A popular method for adhering thin films onto a substrate. Sputtering is done by bombarding a target material with a charged gas (typically argon) which releases atoms in the target that coats the nearby substrate. It all takes place inside a magnetron vacuum chamber under low pressure. See thin film.
References in periodicals archive ?
Sarkar, a materials scientist, describes the use of sputtering for depositing thin films on substrates and sputtering materials for very-large-scale integration (VLSI) and thin film devices, covering the physics of sputtering, the characteristics of sputtering targets, chamber design, and thin film properties.
In current device manufacturing processes, these electrode layers are deposited by sputtering or evaporation; then, electrodes are taken out of the vacuum in order to deposit a solder layer with an appropriate thickness by evaporation or printing using another device; and finally, they are joined to a heat sink substrate by reflow soldering.
The potential interest in reactive magnetron sputtering process relies on the possibility of producing thin films with new properties, markedly different from those corresponding equilibrium bulk phases.
The order for the ultra-high vacuum Gamma sputtering tool, from the Low Dimensional Systems Laboratory of Romania's National Institute of Materials Physics, is unusual because it calls for a range of instruments to be fitted.
This smaller-sized cluster-type sputtering system recognizes the demand by device manufacturers to deposit thinner films during the production process for a more compact device.
About one hour later, witnesses in Santa Paula reported hearing the plane's engine sputtering loudly as it approached the runway.
In the midst of the whisker work, Van Vechten realized that this structure could also be "a natural explanation for the strong prominence of 11-atom clusters in laser [vaporization],' since that process is as violent as sputtering.
An important resource for the microelectronics and flat panel display industries, this book focuses on the development of sputtering targets for conductor, diffusion barrier, reflective, data storage and display applications.
Processes to be implemented on the plant by the supplier include sputtering processes for the production of transparent conductive oxides (tcos), Very thin silver layers (low-e), Nitride, Oxide and oxynitride layers.
6) Sputtering is using a mechanism with a sealing chamber, in which atoms or molecules are ejected from the surface of a target material as a result of collision with high-energy ions.
Not only should the target's material composition be considered, but also the shape and size of the magnetron cathode in relation to the sputtering chamber.
In Mercury's case the solar wind probably does the sputtering.