W. Sakiew
P. Schwerdtner
M. Jupé
A. Pflug
D. Ristau

Impact of ion species on ion beam sputtered Ta2O5 layer quality parameters and on corresponding process productivity: A preinvestigation for large-area coatings

J. Vac. Sci. Technol. A
Type: Zeitschriftenaufsatz (reviewed)
The demand for ion beam sputtering-coated substrates is growing. In order to introduce ion beam sputter deposition (IBSD) technology into new fields of application, the deposition area must be further increased. In this context, the ion species applied for the sputtering process is an important parameter. In the present investigation, an industrial scale IBSD process was characterized with respect to productivity and layer quality by varying the ion species. Ar, Kr, or Xe broad ion beams at an ion energy of 1.8 keV were used, and the evaluation was carried out on the basis of Ta2O5 layers. The dielectric films were produced in a reactive process through the sputtering of a metallic Ta target, and their two-dimensional distributions of the coating rate R, the refractive index 𝑛(320nm), and the extinction coefficient 𝑘(320nm) were determined over a planar area of 0.9 × 1.0 m2 above the target by the collection method. R served as a measure of productivity, while 𝑛(320nm) and 𝑘(320nm) were quality parameters. Additionally, the layer composition was determined for selected samples on the collector by an electron probe microanalyzer (EPMA). As expected, the different ion-solid interaction mechanisms resulted in significant differences with regard to productivity. Linear scaling of productivity as a function of ion mass was observed. Calculations of the sputtering yield with semiempirical models or SRIM-2013, a binary collision Monte Carlo simulation program, did not confirm the observed linearity. Furthermore, the configuration with the highest productivity, Xe, led to a locally occurring and significant reduction in layer quality, more precisely, an increase of 𝑘(320nm). Additionally, the layer compositions determined with EPMA confirmed that ions originating from the ion source were implanted in the thin films during their formation. A detailed evaluation of the angle-resolved energy distributions of the involved particles, simulated with SRIM-2013, was performed. However, the determination of the energies carried away from the target by backscattered ions and sputtered target atoms does not explain the observed degradation mechanism. This concludes that for the realization of future large-area coatings with IBSD, not all relevant mechanisms are yet understood in sufficient detail.