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Moving Magnetics and Sputtering Target Material Utilization: An Interview with Frank Zimone

I recently had a discussion with Frank Zimone (VP of Business Development at Angstrom Sciences) about sputtering target utilization. He stressed the point: although "material by weight sputtered off the target" is how most folks define the ‘target utilization’, when judging the efficiency of a process, it is only the material that makes it to the product that counts. Frank said:

“What is happening now, is that we are seeing that many companies, after the rush to set up a process to create a good product and “get to market”, are now working on dialing in the process to save money by lowering production costs. This can be achieved by putting more of the target material onto thin-film cells, and wasting less by depositing less of the material elsewhere in the production tool.

“We have recently completed a study with a major photovoltaics company which evaluated enhanced magnetics from multiple competitors.  In a back-to-back comparison with identical process conditions (power density, line speed, etc.) both targets were utilized ~85%  as measured by weight loss.” (Remember folks – this is application specific.) “The main difference between the seemingly similar depositions was that one set of magnetics yielded 20% more material on the substrate.”

I asked the obvious question at this point: “How was that possible?”

Frank replied:

“One set on magnetics was able to get the 2 erosion racetracks more closely aligned, and more perpendicular to the target surface. This translated into higher dynamic deposition rate and less wasted material on the chamber shields.”

It’s a simple concept if you understand the physics of sputtering, and Frank agreed that most customers know this from an academic point but do not have the time/resources to properly test. He said, “More established customers are now looking into these particular issues.”

To learn more about moving magnetics, contact Frank Zimone at or stop by and see him at InterSolar this week!

I'll be there, as well. Look for me in the Indium Corporation exhibit #5325.