Deposition by high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HIPIMS) is considered by some as the new paradigm of advanced sputtering technology, yet this is met with skepticism by others for the reported lower deposition rates, if compared to rates of more conventional sputtering of equal average power. In this contribution, the underlying physical reasons for the rate changes are discussed, including (i) ion return to the target and self-sputtering, (ii) the less-than-linear increase in the sputtering yield with increasing ion energy, (iii) yield changes due to the shift of species responsible for sputtering, (iv) changes due to greater film density, limited sticking, and self-sputtering on the substrate, (v) noticeable power losses in the switch module, (vi) changes in the magnetic balance and particle confinement of the magnetron due to self-fields at high current, and (vii) superposition of sputtering and sublimation/evaporation for selected materials. The situation is even more complicated for reactive systems where the target surface chemistry is a function of the reactive gas partial pressure and discharge conditions. While most of these factors imply a reduction in the normalized deposition rate, increased rates have been reported for certain conditions using hot targets and less poisoned targets. Finally, some points of economics and HIPIMS benefits are considered.
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