Magnetron Sputtering of Metal and TCO Layers

Magnetron Sputtering of Metal and Transparent Conductive Oxide (TCO) Coatings for Industrial Prototyping

In-line multi-chamber magnetron sputtering machine at SERIS


Magnetron sputtering is a physical vapour deposition (PVD) process that is widely used in the coating industry to deposit thin films onto different substrates (glass, foil, steel etc), for a wide range of applications. SERIS is offering magnetron sputtering services for small volumes to allow clients from industry and academia to explore the use of this technology for their products and prototypes.

The PVD sputtering platform at SERIS is designed for medium- to high-throughput applications like solar cells, architectural glass and flat panel displays. The machine can handle any flat substrate with a size of up to 300 mm × 400 mm, with a maximum thickness of 5 mm. Typical substrates would be glass and silicon wafers. This state-of-the-art machine has dedicated chambers for the sputtering of metallic, dielectric and transparent conductive oxide (TCO) layers. The processing chambers are equipped with planar magnetron sources for DC sputtering of metals, oxides and oxynitrides in the reactive mode, and with a cylindrical dual-magnetron source and planar sources for pulsed DC (DC+) sputtering of dielectrics and TCOs, with substrate heating up to 500°C. This allows to deposit thin layers of metals, TCOs and dielectrics onto various substrates. It is also possible to deposit graded layers, or multi-layer stacks of up to six different materials, without breaking the vacuum conditions. As the platform is comparable with large-scale production machines, the processes developed on this machine can easily be scaled up to industrial production lines. At SERIS we use this tool for depositing metal layers, TCOs and multi-layers for Si and CIGS thin-film solar cells, as well as heterojunction silicon wafer solar cells. The features of our sputtering machine are listed in Table 1.

In addition to AZO and ITO, we are able to deposit a variety of other layers, including Ag, Al, Ti, Cu, In, ZnO and thin layers of metal, oxide and oxynitride tuned to the customer’s requirements.

Parameter Details
Substrate Glass, Si wafers and foils
Substrate size Minimum 50 mm x 50 mm, maximum 300 mm x 400 mm
Substrate movement Linear and oscillating
Substrate temperature Up to 500oC
Power supply DC and DC+ (0 - 10 kW)
Sputter targets Planar (Ti, Zn, Ag, Al, ITO)
Dual cylinder (2 wt % Al doped ZnO)
Gas supply Ar, O2, N2, Ar+O2 (98% + 2%)
Layers Ag, Al, TiO2, ZnO, AZO, ITO