Thin Film Deposition Systems
The HEX Series | Highly Modular PVD Systems
The HEX Series of thin film deposition systems provides a versatile range of deposition options for your research and implementation applications. To get started, you’re welcome to purchase the base model and upgrade to higher-level components to suit your needs as necessary. These upgrades are modular and simple to install, which reduces system downtime and installation costs.
The HEX Series includes the benchtop HEX and the larger HEX-L Systems. (See “HEX vs HEX-L page).
The benchtop HEX model comes with an 80 l/s pump that allows for base vacuums up to 8×10-7 mbar and allows for sample sizes up to 100 mm. The system also comes with a multi-sample holder that can accommodate several smaller samples simultaneously. The system contains many upgrade options, including a 300 l/s pump that achieves a base vacuum of 4×10-7 mbar.
Users may also opt for a larger HEX-L chamber with space for sample sizes up to 150 mm, or multiple smaller samples.
Modular Design for Rapid Re-Configuration
The HEX system consists of a six-sided aluminium-framed high-vacuum chamber that is lightweight yet rigid enough for most physical vapour deposition applications. The hexagonal structure supports six modular panels, including:
- Blank panel
- Viewport panel
- Deposition source panel
- PLD instrument process control panel including mass flow controllers and thickness control
- QCM panel for in-situ monitoring
The design uses standardised fittings, including Hamlet quick connects for the gas and water connections and wing nuts for sample stage and component attachments. This standardisation makes it simple to switch out panels and adjust the system to a particular application. The modular design also makes maintenance and reconfiguration faster and more efficient.
Designed With Research and Development in Mind
The HEX Series are ideal for research and development due to their modular nature. All essential elements are accessible, allowing testing of various components and thorough exploration of the processes involved in several thin-film deposition techniques, including:
- Sample preparation for surface analysis
- Thermal evaporation
- Organic physical vapour deposition
Supported methodologies in the base model include:
- Metal and photoresist lift-off process
- EM sample preparation
- New coating research and development
- Magnetron sputtering deposition optimisation
Should your use case require additional functionality, the HEX system contains many other modules that expand the scope of the system for most thin film deposition processes.
HEX Thin Film Deposition Sources
ORCA: Organic Evaporation
TES: Thermal Evaporation
DC and RF Sputtering
Our Thin Film Deposition FAQs
Thin film deposition refers to any technique where a very thin film of material, usually only a few atoms thick, covers a particular substrate. What makes this process attractive is the versatility and range of both the coating and target material, which allows the coating to improve or alter the substrate’s performance. Common applications include making the substrate scratch-resistant, making it more or less electrically conductive, or improving on a substrate’s durability.
The two primary methods of thin film deposition systems rely on either a physical evaporation process or chemical reactions to atomise the source material before bonding it to the substrate layer by layer. Physical processes rely on very low pressures on a resistive heat source to produce the required vapour pressure, while chemical processes use reactive gas and another precursor gas. When the two gases interact on the substrate, a chemical reaction occurs that results in an even film without the need for spin coating methods that may influence thickness or purity.
Thin film deposition techniques fall into two broad categories: physical vapour deposition (PVD) and chemical vapour deposition (CVD).
Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD)
PVD relies on mechanical, electromechanical, or thermodynamic processes to coat the target material with the atomised film. The most common technique involves vaporising a solid material in a high-vacuum deposition chamber and then depositing that material onto a substrate material. Physical deposition produces a highly durable, corrosion-resistant film that changes the properties of the substrate. Vapourisation methods include:
- Evaporation, such as electron beam evaporation, ion-assisted deposition (IAD), and thermal evaporation
- Magnetron sputtering
- Reactive sputtering
- Ion beam sputtering (IBS)
- Pulsed laser deposition (PLD)
Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD)
CVD relies on volatile precursor chemicals in the gas phase to create a chemical reaction that results in a thin layer of deposited film on the substrate surface. Standard methods for chemical deposition include:
- Atmospheric pressure CVD
- Low-pressure CVD
- Ultra-high vacuum CVD
- Atomic layer deposition
- Plasma-enhanced CVD
Thin films allow manufacturers to change or enhance the properties of the substrate. The evaporated material may provide additional durability or confer a new property on the substrate, such as conductivity.
The main advantage of thin metal films is their versatility. Thin-film applications can vary in film thickness (ranging from one atomic layer to multiple layers), coating material (organic compounds, pure metal and almost anything in between), and substrates (ranging from a silicon wafer up to solar panels and biomedical implants).
Thin films are critical to:
- Opto-electronics such as consumer electronic devices, optical filters, and LED displays
- Precision optics such as focal plane arrays and anti-reflectivity/high reflectivity coatings
- Semiconductors such as photodetectors, RF power transistors, focal plane arrays and LEDs
- Medical applications such as biocompatible hard coatings for implants
- Decorative coatings for ceramics and cutlery
Many bench-top thin film deposition systems are solid-state instruments that offer limited functionality. The HEX series is unique amongst thin film deposition systems due to its versatility — its modular design allows for customisation and robust user control features. Not only does this make the HEX ideal for teaching about various thin film techniques, but it also allows research and production facilities to incorporate the latest advancements in thin films into their bench-top system.