Better Thin Films, Fewer Test Runs?

We see an accelerating trend, in the PVD industry, that empirical-data-based operations are giving way to numerical-simulation-guided practices. The motive behind this shift: improve quality of products; heighten efficiency; and shorten time-to-market. As a provider of numerical modeling tools for PVD, we offer a few of our observations in support of this shift.

But is numerical modeling really capable of describing the intricacies of PVD processes?

Absolutely. Numerical modeling, based on rigorous mathematical treatment, has been proven very realistic in simulating PVD processes. A good numerical model is highly reliable in predicting thickness distribution, material consumption, effects of shadow masks, and many other aspects of PVD processes.

What if my system employs a magnetron source with a tilt angle, and a chimney?

Advanced modeling tools, such as V-Grade 5S, are capable of modeling magnetron sources with ease. Source tilt is a build-in function; chimneys can be conveniently modeled with the shadow mask features, which can handle masks of arbitrary shape and location. In fact, V-Grade 5S can model magnetron sources of various geometric construction, from planar to cylindrical and so on.

My sputtering source changes properties over time. How does numerical modeling account for that?

It is well known that thickness distribution from magnetron sputtering changes as a target ages. This is caused by the changing vapor-flux distribution as a target becomes more and more eroded. Advanced modeling tools are capable of accurately describing an evolving vapor plume. Engineers can anticipate the impact of a changing vapor plume throughout the life of a target, guiding effective counter measures.

How does a numerical-modeling-guided practice reduce cost?

With a good numerical modeling software, you can greatly reduce the number of test runs. In fact, most test runs can be replaced by virtual runs through numerical modeling. Pump-down test runs may be reserved for final validation only. Remember, your pump-down test runs, including metrology, typically cost between \$5,000 to \$20,000 each.

What can numerical modeling be used for?

1. Evaluate and prove product specifications for your customers;

2. Tackle new PVD system designs;

3. Validate innovative process designs;

4. Budget material consumption for a given job;

5. Design and optimize correction masks, for evaporation or sputtering;

6. Improve quality of thin films through guided optimization;

--- and many other purposes.

Available January 2018:

Fitting of vapor plume of either sputtering or evaporation sources, using experimental data from either moving or stationary deposition. Contact Tin Model for details: www.tinmodel.com

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