Sputtering as a means of thin film deposition has been used for many years. From time-to-time new techniques, or variations in implementation come along that can provide new benefits to thin film and engineering communities. In the late 1990s one such technique stared to be reported1-5.
The approach is now normally known as HiPIMS (High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering). A useful introduction for this technique can be found here6.
This low duty cycle but high impulse power delivery results in very high plasma densities. I fact it results in a high proportion of the sputtered material from the target also becoming ionised. See an excellent recent tutorial on this technique by André Anders7.
Pulsed DC power supplies had already been used and found advantageous especially in the reactive deposition of oxides and nitrides. The particular innovation within the HiPIMS technique is supported by modern power electronics. While the time-averaged power delivery is similar to conventional sputtering the instantaneous, or impulse, power can be very high. Impulse power levels from 0.1 to many MW can be delivered. An example of the range of power supplies now commercially available is illustrated by8-10.
Nordiko’s first encountered this technique when we retrofitted a 9550 system with the zPulser Cyprium power supply in 2015.