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Simulation of plasma potential and ion energies in magnetron sputtering

: Pflug, A.; Siemers, M.; Schwanke, C.; Febty Kurnia, B.; Sittinger, V.; Szyszka, B.


Materials technology 26 (2011), Nr.1, S.10-14
ISSN: 1066-7857
Fraunhofer IST ()

From experimental findings of magnetron sputtering processes, it is well known that the flux and energy distribution of ions at the substrate strongly depend on the operation mode of the electric power source. In reactive magnetron sputtering processes, this has a major impact on the properties of deposited films such as morphology, crystalline structure and etching behaviour. Thus, in the development of coated products with improved properties, it is an issue to maintain a tailored and reproducible ion energy distribution at the substrate in industrial sputtering coaters. We address this issue via particle-in-cell Monte-Carlo (PIC-MC) simulations on a two-dimensional cross-sectional model of magnetron sputter sources within our in-line sputter coater, whereas DC, MF and RF mode are assumed as different power supply operation modes. For each mode, the simulations reveal the relevant ion creation mechanisms as well as the formation of the electric potential distributions . From the simulation data, the respective ion energy distribution functions are extracted near the substrate and compared with empirically known data. The PIC-MC framework allows for simulation based tuning of industrial sputter coaters with respect to tailored film growth conditions, which will be an issue of future work.