An intense, continuous beam of metalclusters and cluster ions is produced by combining a magnetron sputter discharge with a gas aggregationsource. The average cluster size can be varied between 50 and more than 106 atoms per cluster. The sputter discharge is also used to ionize the clusters; between 30% and 80% of them carry a charge without further electron‐impact ionization. Mo n −clusters with n≊1200 were separated from the neutral clusters, accelerated, and deposited on a polished Cu substrate. Above a kinetic energy of 6 keV, highly reflecting, strongly adhering thin films are formed on room‐temperature substrates. The films can be mechanically polished, which increases the reflectivity from 95% to 97% at 10.6 μm. Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy data reveal that less than 0.5% argon is incorporated into the films. The standard structure zone model of Movchan, Demchishin, and Thornton [in B. Chapman, Glow Discharge Processes (Wiley, New York, 1982)] is not applicable. The impact of an energetic cluster leads locally to a sudden increase of pressure and temperature. A tiny, high‐temperature spot is formed at each impact of an energetic cluster. The high local temperature present for several picoseconds leads to the observed film properties. The main advantage of the method seems to be that excellent thin films can be produced on room‐temperature substrates. The name ‘‘energetic cluster impact’’ is proposed for this new deposition method.
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