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Advantages of Rotary Sputtering Targets vs. Planar Sputtering Targets

I have been asked to explain why someone would want to use rotary sputtering targets instead of planar sputtering targets.

Certainly there is some expense involved with larger targets and new equipment (assuming you are currently using a planar system), but in a high volume process (such as roll-to-roll thin film deposition) the advantages lead to a lower cost of ownership:

  • Compared to planar targets, rotary targets generally have more surface area per given length.


  • Rotary targets have much more surface area, so the magnetron power can be spread out over a larger area in a given amount of time. This helps keep the target running cooler, decreases nodule formation, and reduces the occurrence of arcing.
  1. Since rotary sputtering decreases nodule formation, targets can have longer continuous runtimes.
  2. There is generally more material available to sputter on a rotary target, which increases runtimes.
  3. Rotary target utilization is usually ~80%, as opposed to ~30% for planar targets – which decreases scrap and increases runtimes.


  • Rotary targets are well suited for continuous sputtering processes. Continuous processing increases throughput since there is less time wasted preparing the sputtering chamber.


  • Rotary targets are more cost effective for high volume processes. They provide a good platform for long runtime processes, with less chance of defects and downtime.


  • Planar targets are still best suited for prototype work or elemental experimentation, especially when large amounts of material are not needed at once.


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