Sputter & carbon coaters

Sputter and Carbon coaters are used to deposit a thin metal or carbon layer on the surface of a substrate. Sputtering is used in electron microscopy to deposit an electrically conductive film on non-conductive surfaces, to prevent electrons from the microscope's electron beam from accumulating on the sample surface, causing the latter to become charged. Such a charge would prevent imaging of these surfaces with the SEM. The desired films should be extremely thin, but electrically conductive, with a thickness of 2 - 20 nm. Carbon is used for EDS and WDS analysis because of the low absorption of X-Ray and to create support films for TEM.

Working principle of magnetron sputter coaters

Magnetron sputter coaters (also referred to as "Cool Sputter Coaters") are equipped with a dedicated magnet for this application, located in the sputter head (cathode) in the vicinity of the target. The purpose of this magnet is to keep the electrons released during the ionisation process away from the sample stage (anode) on its field lines.

This has a dual effect:

  • The electrons are available for ionisation of further process gas ions;
  • Excessive heating is avoided, which would otherwise result from the electrons colliding with the sample stage.

During sputter coating, a vacuum is produced in a vacuum chamber, and a process gas is continuously leaked into the vacuum chamber, preferably argon, which has an ideal ion size and is chemically inert with regard to reaction with other molecules.

Within a vacuum window from approx. 1 x 10-1 mbar to approx. 5 x 10-3 mbar, process gas atoms present in an electrical field are ionised, i.e. a plasma is created. Positively charged argon atoms are accelerated towards the magnetron head with the target (cathode) and erode target atoms, which reach all surfaces within the vacuum chamber, including the sample to be coated.

Carbon coaters of the Q150R series are fully automated, modular coating systems for the application of fine-grained carbon films for SEM and TEM. The Q150R comes either as carbon coater (RE) or as a combination of sputter and carbon coater (RES). Carbon sources can be both carbon rods and filaments.  

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Sputter coaters of the Q150R series are fully automated, modular coating systems for the application of fine-grained carbon films for SEM, TEM and thin-film technology.  Together with a variety of options, the Q150R base unit can be used both as sputter coater or for glow discharge.

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Carbon coaters of the Q150T series are fully automated, modular coating systems for the application of fine-grained carbon films for SEM and TEM. The Q150T comes either as carbon coater (TE) or as combination of sputter and carbon coater (TES). Carbon sources can be both carbon rods and filaments.

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Sputter coaters of the Q150T series are fully automated, modular coating systems for the application of fine-grained carbon films for SEM, TEM and thin-film technology. The instrument is available in four models. Together with a variety of options, the Q150T base unit can be used as sputter coater, carbon coater or for glow discharge.

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Series Q300 sputter coaters are fully automated, modular coating systems with large vacuum chambers for applying fine-grained films for SEM, TEM and thin-film technology. The instrument is available in three models.

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The SC7620 Mini Sputter Coater is a low-cost manual device for sputtering precious metals (Au, Au/Pd) and glow discharge. Optional is a carbon fiber attachment for deposting a thin layer of carbon for energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy.

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The K975X carbon coater is a compact thermal evaporator for vacuum deposition of thin layers of carbon and metals for SEM and TEM applications. The K975 series consists of the carbon and metal evaporator s K975X and  K975S, designed to coat 8” wafers or similarly large specimens with carbon (C). 

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The Q150GB is a modular glovebox version of the highly successful Q150T ES bench top turbomolecular-pumped coating system. It is suitable for SEM, TEM and many thin-film applications. The system is a single platform for sputtering, carbon rod and metal evaporation (optional).

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