Magnetron sputtering is a widely used manufacturing process for depositing thin films onto substrates, with a variety of commercial manufacturing and scientific applications. Researchers need to simulate magnetron devices with different plasma characteristics, magnetic field configurations, and geometries, so they can increase sputter target lifetime, increase the deposition rate, and improve deposition coverage and uniformity. In the case illustrated in Figure 1, researchers wanted to model the sputtering of Nb onto the walls of superconducting RF cavities.
To optimize sputter target lifetime, increase the deposition rate, and improve deposition coverage and uniformity, Tech-X simulated the erosion and deposition profiles using VSim's plasma discharges modeling capability. VSim simulated the entire magnetron device with different plasma characteristics, magnetic field configurations, and geometries. VSim successfully modeled the deposition of sputtered Nb neutrals onto the walls of superconducting RF cavities.
VSim models magnetron sputtering systems in a commercially support particle-in-cell (PIC) and finite difference time domain (FDTD) electrostatic simulation software package that handles both cylindrical and rectangular coordinates
VSim’s Plasma Discharge package captures electron motion in a magnetic field at a kinetic level, including Monte Carlo modeling of collisions and secondary electron emission. VSim can model the sputtering emission and erosion profile resulting from ions colliding with a cathode of copper, gold, or other sputter target materials. Kinetic physics of the plasma sheath near the sputter target gets modeled.VSim users can view simulated electrons, ions, and their energy distributions, as well as electrostatic and magnetic fields in either scalar or vector view. Simulation reveals the atomic layer deposition profile on the substrate.
Cyclotron oscillations (Larmor motion), plasma oscillations, geometry dependent oscillations, and E x B drift (Hall current) can be simulated and viewed, often with intuitive animations.
IV (current-voltage) parameters of the magnetron can be explored with lumped circuit elements connected in an external feedback loop.