The main system for the deposition and/or treatment of materials is a typical parallel plate reactor which is connected to an RF (13.56 MHz) power supply via two parallel electrodes placed inside the chamber. This configuration allows the electrodes surface to be in contact with the plasma phase. Thanks to the RF voltage supply any kind of material can be treated or deposited.
Both continuous and pulsed plasmas can be generated. This offers an high level of flexibility in term of the different types of materials which can be treated or deposited. The pulsed configuration in particular allows the treatment of insulating substrates avoiding the charge-induced damaging as well as of temperature-sensitive materials (polymers) by strongly reducing the heating load.
The reactor is equipped with two cathodes (a magnetron and a simple capacitive one): this allows the deposition of composite materials by co-sputtering of two different targets. Separate power supplies (Advanced Energy RFX 600A and Advanced Energy CESAR) are connected to each target providing independent power control.
The samples, placed on the anode, can be electrically polarized either in continuous or pulsed mode and heated up to ~500C°.
The sample holder can also be rotated during the processes to enhance film/treatment homogeneity.
Both thin film deposition and surface treatments can be performed.
Two types of plasma-assisted processes can be operated in the reactor: Physical Vapor Deposition -PVD and Plasma Assisted Chemical Vapor Deposition -PACVD.
- PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) or Sputtering - The depositing material comes from a target placed on the cathode, which is sputtered under the effect of the bombardment of high energy ions from the plasma.
- PACVD (Plasma Assisted Chemical Vapor Deposition) - The material precursors are gases which are activated in the plasma phase through dissociation, excitation and ionization processes, yielding highly reactive species. Chemical reactions at the substrate surface lead then to the solid coating formation.
Besides, the plasma chamber is part of the so called “Cluster Lab”, an UHV (Ultra High Vacuum) Integrated system in which the deposition chambers are connected in vacuum to the XPS spectrometer (ESCA 200). Such system allows in-situ deposition and characterization of materials, avoiding any contaminations due to air exposure of the treated samples before analysis.