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Publication numberUS3827966 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 6, 1974
Filing dateDec 29, 1972
Priority dateDec 29, 1971
Also published asDE2263738A1
Publication numberUS 3827966 A, US 3827966A, US-A-3827966, US3827966 A, US3827966A
InventorsNeedham V
Original AssigneeLucas Aerospace Ltd
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Sputtering apparatus
US 3827966 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

1974 v. NEEDHAM 3,827,966

SPUTTERING APPARATUS Filed Dec. 29, 1972 4 Sheets-Sheet 1 ll 1 I 1 a 4 Z/J//7// //J //Al IO f I? IE 'I Aug. 6, 1974 v. NEEDHAM SPUTTERING APPARATUS 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Dec. 29, 1972 a na FIG6.

6, 1974 v. NEEDHAM 3,827,966

SPUTTERING APPARATUS Filed Dec. 29, 1972 4 Sheets-Sheet 5 Li I8 FIGA.

Aug. 6, 1974 Filed Dec. 29, 1972 v. NEEDHAM 3,827,966

SPUTTERING APPARATUS 4 SheetsSh,eet 4 United States Patent 3,827,966 SPUTTERING APPARATUS Victor Needham, Balsall Common, England, assignor to Lucas Aerospace Limited, Birmingham, England Filed Dec. 29, 1972, Ser. No. 319,389

Claims priority, application Great Britain, Dec. 29, 1971,

Int. Cl. C23c 15/00 US. Cl. 204-298 3 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A sputtering apparatus has a cathode arrangement of circular cross section which extends into a chamber for holding an inert gas at a low pressure. An annular conduit surrounds the cathode arrangement and gas can be supplied through said conduit into said chamber by means of a port arrangement which extends around said cathode so as to have an even distribution of gas about the cathode axis.

This invention relates to sputtering apparatus for depositing a layer of material on an element, and has as an object to provide such an apparatus in a convenient form.

According to the invention a sputtering apparatus comprises a chamber for maintaining an inert gas at a low pressure, a cathode arrangement of substantially circular crosssection extending into the chamber, an anode, an annular conduit coaxial with said cathode arrangement, and means for introducing said gas into said conduit, said conduit communicating with said chamber so that said gas can be introduced in to the chamber with substantially even distribution around the cathode axis.

A sputtering device will now be described by way of example and with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic plan view of the apparatus, parts having been removed for clarity,

FIG. 2 is a section on line 22 in FIG. 1,

FIGS. 3 and 4 show diagrammatically, to larger scales, parts of FIG. 2, and

FIG. 5 is a block of diagram of a control circuit for the apparatus.

Referring firstly to FIGS. 1 and 2, a chamber has metal walls 11. The chamber 10 includes a generally discshaped portion 12 and a peripheral portion 13, to be described later. Extending from the upper wall of the portion 12 are two further chamber portions 14, 15, and a hatch 16, whose locations are shown in outline in FIG. 1. Portions 14, 15, are in part defined by stepped cylindrical bores which open into the chamber portion 12.

Rotatable within chamber portion 12 is a transport arrangement 17, shown in greater detail in FIG. 3. Arrangement 17 comprises a wheel 18 supported by pillars 19 on a spider plate 20. Wheel 18 is of metal and cast within it are heating elements 2.1 and cooling pipes 22. Spider plate 20 is sealingly secured to a flanged tube 23 which passes sealingly through the wall 11 at the bottom of chamber portion 12. Conduits 24 communicate with pipes 22 and pass sealingly through tube 23 to make a rotatable connection (not shown) with a source of cooling fluid. Connections with elements 21 are made via slip rings 25 on tube 23. The transport arrangement 17 is rotatable to six discrete locations by means of a Geneva mechanism 26, driven by a motor 27. The wheel 18 has, secured at six equi-spaced locations on its upper face, strips which define U-shaped recesses 28 adapted to receive and locate square glass substrates 29 upon which sputtering operations are to be performed. The arrangement is such that, in any of the aforesaid six discrete positions of wheel 18, three of the recesses 28 will be 3,827,966 Patented Aug. 6, 1974 r' Ce aligned with the bores of chamber portions 14, 15 and hatch 16 respectively. Table 18 is electrically connected to the wall 11 of chamber 10.

The chamber 10 communicates with a pump arrangement, shown generally at 30, by means of which chamber 10 can be reduced to a low pressure. The pump arrangement 30 includes a molecular-drag pump, together with a backing pump, the arrangement 30 being capable of reducing the pressure in chamber 10 to a value of 10- Torr.

The arrangement of chamber portion 15 is shown in more detail in FIG. 4, chamber portion 14 being substantially identical. The wall 11 of chamber 10 includes a portion 31 having a stepped cylindrical bore 32 opening into the chamber portion 12. The portion 31 is of metal and is secured to the remainder of wall 11 so as to be in sealing engagement and good electrical contact.

Cathode assemblies 33, 34 are mounted so as sealingly to close the ends of the bores 32 which are remote from chamber portion 12 and respectively define chamber portions 14, 15. FIG. 4 shows, in the interest of clarity, a somewhat exploded view, with cathode assembly 34 lifted away from sealing engagement with wall portion 31. Cathode assembly 34 includes a flanged cylindrical element 35 having an annular channel 36 therein. A lid 37 sea ingly engages element 35 and is provided with an inlet 37a and an outlet 38 for cooling fluid. A seal ring 39 of silicon rubber serves to seal cathode assembly 34 to wall portion 31 and also to ensure that portion 31 and cathode assembly are mutually insulated electrically.

The cathode assembly 34 includes a circular plate 40 which provides the sputtering target and which is formed of the metal to be sputtered on to a workpiece positioned in a recess 28 below the cathode assembly 34 on the wheel 18. The plate 40 is secured by soldering to the element 35, which can be made of any convenient metal. An electrical terminal 41 is secured to the element 35.

The axial lengths of the cathode assembly 34 and the stepped portion 42 of bore 32 are such that plate 40 does not extend below the stepped portion 42. A radial clearance 43 exists between cathode assembly 34 and stepped bore portion 42.

An annular gallery 44 extends around bore portion 42 within wall 31 and communicates with the bore by means of radial holes 45. A conduit 46 connects gallery 44 with a source of inert gas, as for example argon. A pressure sensing device 47 communicates with the chamber portion 15. A vehicle ignition plug 48 is modified by removal of its earth electrode and by removal of part of its threaded case adjacent the HT. electrode. Plug 48 is sealingly mounted in wall portion 31 so that the electrode of the plug i directed towards chamber portion 15. An aperture plate 49 extends across the end of bore 32 remote from cathode assembly 34 and defines a window through which material can be sputtered on to the workpiece.

In the example described plate 40 consists of gold, and the corresponding plate in cathode assembly 33 is of a nickel-chrome alloy.

The chamber portion 16 has no associated cathode assembly, but has instead an access cover (not shown) sealingly engageable with the wall of portion 16. The workpieces may thereby be removed from the apparatus via chamberportion 16 after sputtering.

Chamber portion 13 (FIGS. 1 and 2) includes famaga zine 50 into which five glass substrates can be loaded. A cathode assembly 51 is substantially the same as cathode assembly 34, described above. Cathode assembly 51 has, however, no plate corresponding to the plate 40. Assembly 51 is moreover, mounted in the base of chamber portion 13 so as to lie substantially flush with the bottom wall thereof.

A rack and pinion transfer arm 52 is operable to move the substrates sequentially from the magazine 50 on to the center of the cathode assembly 51. A further rack and pinion transfer arm 53 is operable to move individual substrates from cathode assembly 51 into an adjacent location on the wheel 18, via a passage 54 interconnecting chamber-portions 12, 13.

The wall 11 of the chamber, ,and the wheel 18 are both connected to earth. Connected etween the terminal 41 and the wall 11, via a control and switching unit 55 (FIG. is an alternating voltage. The frequency of this voltage is 13.5 mHz., and the voltage applied can be raised to 2.5 kv. The corresponding terminals of cathode assemblies 33, 51 are similarly connected to an alternating voltage.

The wall 11 of chamber together with the table 18 form the anode of the apparatus. The effective area of the anode is thus very much greater than that of any of the cathodes. Application of an R.F. potential to any one of the cathodes results in a DC. bias potential, relative to earth, at the cathode once a plasma has been established. This bias potential ensures that material is ejected from the cathode only. The bias potential is detected by a D.C. meter 56 (FIG. 5) and is also supplied via a filter circuit 57 to one input of a diiferential amplifier 58. The other input of amplifier 58 is supplied with a reference voltage from a source 59.

An output signal from amplifier 58 provides a control signal for the control unit 55, which, in use, is responsive to amplifier 58 to vary the R.F. potential so as to maintain the DC. bias substantially constant. An output signal from amplifier 58 also indicates the presence of a plasma between the cathode and anode, and operates the relay 60. The relay 60 in turn controls a timer 61, by means of which the length of a sputtering operation may be set. At the end of a preset time timer 61 causes control unit 55 to switch oif the R.F. supply to the cathode.

Uniformity of deposition and the adhesion of a sputtered layer are improved by reducing the pressure within a sputtering chamber. It is not, however, possible to initiate a plasma field at the ideal sputtering pressures by means of the R.F. voltage alone. It has been found, however, that a plasma can be initiated, at the lowest pressures at which the plasma can be maintained, by means of spark plug 48, whose H.T. electrode is supplied with kv. from a conventional spark generator 62, via a switch 63. Switch 63 is itself under the control of relay 60, whereby the supply to the plug 48 is switched off when the plasma has been initiated.

If the plasma should inadvertently become extinguished the relay 60 stops the timer 61 and causes the plug 48 to be energised to reestablish the plasma. If this is successful, the sputtering operation restarts and continues to the end of the period set by the timer 61. If the plasma cannot, however, be re-established, an integrating timer 64, responsive to the duration of operation of the plug 48, operates an alarm 65 and switches ofi the R.F. supply.

A further timer 66 is responsive to the time over which the plasma remains in being and, in the absence of the plasma for a predetermined period, will also operate the alarm 65 and switch oil the R.F. supply.

In use, five substrates are loaded into the magazine 50, these substrates having first been cleaned to remove gross contamination. The substrates are sequentially loaded on to cathode 51 where they are subjected to a sputtering-etching operation which removes all traces of contamination. After etching eachsubstrate is transferred by arm 53 onto the wheel 18, five of the six locations on the wheel 18 thus being occupied at the end of the cleaning and transfer operation.

The wheel is indexed until the vacant location is aligned with cathode assembly 33. The wheel 18, and consequently the substrates, are heated to a temperature of 300 C. The R.F. supply is switched on to cathode assembly 33 and the plasma established by means of the associated spark plug. This operation serves to clean the target surface of cathode assembly 33, and is the reason for the vacant location on wheel 18. After cleaning cathode 33 the wheel is again indexed to bring the first substrate into alignment with cathode 33 and nickel-chrome alloy is sputtered on to the substrate. The sputtering operation is repeated for the remaining four substrates after which the vacant location is aligned with cathode assembly 34. The wheel 18 and the substrates are cooled to a temperature of C. to 200 C. and the sputter cleaning proces is carried out on cathode 34. The substrates are then successively sputtered with gold. Finally the substrates are cooled to room temperature and removed via the hatch 16.

During both the sputter-etching and sputter-deposition operations a supply of argon gas enters the chamber 10 via the gallery, corresponding to gallery 44, of the cathode assembly which is in use. This results in an even distribution of argon within the cathode assembly and has been found significantly to improve the uniformity of deposition. Moreover, ensuring that all electrically earthed material in the vicinity of the cathode is symmetrical with the cathode has also been found to assist in obtaining uniformity of deposition during sputtering.

The radial dimension of the gap 43 around each cathode assembly is less than that of the dark space adjacent the cathode. There is thus no ion bombardment of any part of the chamber portion. The walls of the chamber thus provide dark-space shielding for the cathode.

The use of dark space shielding, and of control of deposition by timing of plasma duration eliminates the requirement for movable shields within the chamber. Since, in a cycle involving a batch of five substrates, all cleaning, sputtering and transfer processes are performed under the control of electrical signals, the timing and sequence of these processes may readily be controlled by a punched card or a perforated or magnetic tape.

I claim:

1. A sputtering apparatus comprising a chamber for maintaining an inert gas at a low pressure, a cathode arrangement of substantially circular cross-section extenting into the chamber, an anode, an annular conduit coaxial with said cathode arrangement, means for introducing said gas into said conduit and means comprising a port arrangement between said conduit and said chamber for introducing gas from said conduit into said chamber, said port arrangement extending around said cathode so as to provide a substantially even distribution of said gas around the cathode axis.

2. A sputtering apparatus as claimed in Claim 1 in which said chamber includes a portion which provides a zone of substantially constant radial clearance around said cathode arrangement.

3. A sputtering apparatus as claimed in Claim 2 in which said conduit communicates with said chamber by means of a plurality of radial holes which open into said zone of radial clearance.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,886,502 5/1959 Holland 204298 JOHN H. MACK, Primary Examiner W. A. LANGEL, Assistant Examiner U.S. Cl. X.R. 204192

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3976555 *Mar 20, 1975Aug 24, 1976Coulter Information Systems, Inc.Method and apparatus for supplying background gas in a sputtering chamber
US3981791 *Mar 10, 1975Sep 21, 1976Signetics CorporationVacuum sputtering apparatus
US4094722 *Jan 26, 1977Jun 13, 1978Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co., Ltd.Etching apparatus using a plasma
US4141808 *Apr 17, 1978Feb 27, 1979Eastman Kodak CompanyManganese carbonyl-sulfonyl chloride photoinitiators for radiation polymerizable unsaturated compounds
US4252595 *Mar 28, 1978Feb 24, 1981Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co., Ltd.Etching apparatus using a plasma
US4294678 *Nov 28, 1979Oct 13, 1981Coulter Systems CorporationApparatus and method for preventing contamination of sputtering targets
U.S. Classification204/298.7, 204/298.26, 204/298.25, 204/192.3
International ClassificationH01J37/32, C23C14/34, H01J37/34
Cooperative ClassificationC23C14/34, H01J37/34
European ClassificationH01J37/34, C23C14/34