Plasma Surface Engineering @ ALPS

Advanced pulsed plasma processing tools for hard coatings

The 'AP3 - Hard' project will develop novel power supplies for pulse enhanced dc magnetron sputtering, and coating systems that employ this technology in order to produce thin films that would otherwise not be possible or be more expensive.

aim

For some applications, physical vapour deposition coatings made by cathodic arc processing contain too many particles (droplets) and some materials (such as transition metal borides) can only be processed by slower sputtering. There is a demand for coating systems that can produce high quality coatings from these materials: by increasing sputtering throughput (i.e. reducing cost) and improving the quality of such coatings the project partners will meet this demand.

content

Functional coatings such as optical coatings, hard protective coatings, decorative coatings, are commonly compound coatings. Deposition of these coatings by conventional PVD methods is very challenging. However, it has been shown that the transition to the poisoned mode can be eliminated by using pulsed discharges.

The 'AP3 - Hard' project will develop novel power supplies for pulse enhanced dc magnetron sputtering, and coating systems that employ this technology in order to produce thin films that would otherwise not be possible or be more expensive. In particular, the power supplies and coating systems from the project will improve the economic and technical competitiveness of boride and nitride coatings from reactive sputtering.

results

The various external parameters in the advanced pulsed plasma deposition system can be set in many different ways, which creates a multi-dimensional parameter space, where the optimum set points are unknown and need to be found for each deposition process.Therefore, it is important to develop and employ a robust set of tests and monitoring equipment in order to find the optimal configuration of the system.

outlook

Industrial PVD process equipment is typically not configured to employ plasma diagnosis tools for process optimisation and this complicates the design of the tools- This project will therefor develop a set of diagnosis tools for plasma and process diagnosis.

acknowledgement

The AP3-Hard is a Eurostars project established in the frame of the swedish-swiss innovation initiative.

Funding:

Federal Departement of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER
State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI
International Cooperations in Research and Innovation

partner

Ionautics AB , Sweden

Platit AG, Switzerland

EMPA, Switzlerland