TubeTarget - Sophisticated plasma coating
This research project is focused on developing a new production technology for innovative, low-defect and low-porosity tubular sputtering targets. Targets are the source material from which thin hard-coatings or sensor layers are created by deposition on substrates.
Such targets are utilized in optical applications or in solar technology. The method implemented is a type of physical vapor deposition (PVD) - a vacuum-based coating technology - called sputtering. An argon plasma is used to eject atoms from the target surface and these atoms are deposited on a substrate where they form the desired layer.
The problem is that conventional planar targets are prone to form a so-called “racetrack” erosion zone in the target material. Tubular targets display a homogeneous erosion, thereby improving material utilization. To reach the project goal, the researchers are developing a more efficient and more material-saving target manufacturing process in combination with a suitable plasma coating technique.
Tubular targets are made from strategically important high value materials such as tantalum oxide or hafnium oxide which are fabricated using a rapid hot pressing process - a technique that is the backbone of the innovation: fast, cost-effective, and applicable in the production of a wide range of materials.
More efficient raw materials utilization
The resulting tubular target is tested in a vacuum-coating pilot plant to measure the deposition rate and material consumption. The research team thereby seeks to discover ways to improve production of high-grade thin layers.
Even the slightest improvement would result in cost savings and up to 80 percent efficient utilization of the elaborately extracted raw materials. At the same time, the energy balance is improved during production, which becomes not only faster but also cheaper.
Other Consortium Partners
- PhysTech Coating Technology GmbH (PhysTech)
- RHP-Technology GmbH & Co. KG (RHP)