Why Is My Sputtering Target Breaking?
There are many reasons for sputtering target failure. Some of them are material specific, while others can be avoided or prolonged if a few things are taken into account before sputtering begins.
Maximum power density
Available power varies from material to material. See the Sputtering Target page at www.Heegermaterials.com. for recommendations on the most common materials.
For some materials, power should be ramped up slowly. If too much power is applied too quickly, many materials, especially ceramics and low melting point materials, may fail before sputtering starts. A ramp-up procedure that can be used in these cases can be found on our website.
Many materials are best bonded with adhesives. Bonding a target to a backing plate allows for better cooling, increases the stability of thin targets, and allows sputtering to continue after small cracks. Target bonding limits power consumption to about 20 watts/square inch. For more information on recommended materials for sputtering, visit www.lheegermaterials.com sputtering-targets-before-ordering.
Low melting point
Some materials melt during sputtering. Using very low power and bonding these materials can sometimes make sputtering possible, but in some cases sputtering is simply not possible.
Troubleshooting a sputtering gun
If all other parameters seem to be under control when hitting the broken objects, the sputtering gun should be checked to ensure that the cathode surface is flat. If the cathode is not flat, the target will not make good contact and will not cool sufficiently during sputtering. Although it may seem obvious, something as simple as a lack of cooling water can lead to overheating and failure.
Even when the amount of energy applied and how fast it is applied is controlled, and adhesion is taken into account, objects will fail. Objects are considered consumable, but control of the above parameters should extend the life of most sputtering objects.