Physical vapor deposition (PVD) is a widely used technique in semiconductor integrated circuit (IC) manufacturing.
Sputter deposition is a physical vapor deposition (PVD) method of depositing thin films by sputtering, that is ejecting, material from a "target," that is source, which then deposits onto a "substrate," such as a silicon wafer. Resputtering is re-emission of the deposited material during the deposition process by ion or atom bombardment.
Sputtered atoms ejected from the target have a wide energy distribution, typically up to tens of eV (100,000 K). The sputtered ions (typically only about 1% of the ejected particles is ionized) can ballistically fly from the target in straight lines and impact energetically on the substrates or vacuum chamber causing resputtering. At higher gas pressures, they collide with the gas atoms that act as a moderator and move diffusively, reaching the substrates or vacuum chamber wall and condensing after undergoing a random walk. The entire range from high-energy ballistic impact to low-energy thermalized motion is accessible by changing the background gas pressure. The sputtering gas is often an inert gas such as argon. For efficient momentum transfer, the atomic weight of the sputtering gas should be close to the atomic weight of the target, so for sputtering light elements neon is preferable, while for heavy elements krypton or xenon are used. Reactive gases can also be used to sputter compounds. The compound can be formed on the target surface, in-flight or on the substrate depending on the process parameters. The availability of many parameters that control sputter deposition make it a complex process, but also allow experts a large degree of control over the growth and microstructure of the film.
Sputtering is used extensively in the semiconductor industry to deposit thin films of various materials in integrated circuit processing. Thin antireflection coatings on glass for optical applications are also deposited by sputtering. Because of the low substrate temperatures used, sputtering is an ideal method to deposit contact metals for thin-film transistors. Perhaps the most familiar products of sputtering are low-emissivity coatings on glass, used in double-pane window assemblies. The coating is a multilayer containing silver and metal oxides such as zinc oxide, tin oxide, or titanium dioxide. Sputtering is also used to metalize plastics such as potato chip bags. A large industry has developed around tool bit coating using sputtered nitrides, such as titanium nitride, creating the familiar gold colored hard coat. CrownRe`s yttrium oxide are showing better performance on this field and other ceramic materials like niobium oxide Nb2Ox also has better performance.