Unique sputtering tool extends thin-film research possibilities

* highly sophisticated tool will integrate both LEED and ellipsometer instruments

* for Low Dimensional Systems Lab at Romania's National Institute of Materials Physics

November 3, 2008 --- Surrey NanoSystems will be extending the possibilities of research into thin film deposition following a sputtering tool order from the Low Dimensional Systems Laboratory of Romania's National Institute of Materials Physics (NIMP) in Magurele.

NIMP's specification calls an exceptional range of instrumentation to be fitted to the ultra-high vacuum Gamma sputtering tool, including an ellipsometer and an integrated low-energy electron diffraction (LEED) system. These facilities will provide real-time monitoring of thin film deposition that will greatly increase the efficiency and productivity of the lab's research into new nano-structured materials and corresponding structures - with a wide range of potential applications.

NIMP placed the order with Surrey NanoSystems because of the flexibility and purity of the company's Gamma sputtering tool, and because the company was willing to provide a fully integrated solution to the lab's unusual specification. During the system building process Surrey NanoSystems will be extending the capabilities of the software user interface to allow real-time monitoring of the LEED and ellipsometer instruments, together with the means to dynamically modify deposition parameters.

"This sputtering tool will incorporate a very advanced collection of instrumentation that will significantly automate the trial and evaluation of thin film deposition," says Surrey NanoSystems' Duncan Cooper. "It's certainly one of the highest-specification sputtering tools we will ever have produced, and is probably one the most sophisticated configurations ever requested by the research community. We're extremely pleased to have won this significant order at a time when so much development activity in this sector is beginning."

"Surrey NanoSystems made it to our short list and then stood out because of their willingness to integrate unusual facilities, and for the technical suggestions they made to help us improve the efficiency of what we trying to achieve," says Dr. Gheorghe Iordache, Senior Research Scientist at NIMP.

The equipment is a configuration of Surrey NanoSystems' Gamma tool, an advanced PVD (plasma vapour deposition) sputtering system that is highly optimised for both performance and versatility of use, and is widely used in R&D and pilot production applications. The tool's very high vacuum capability of 5 x 10-9 Torr, which is as much as two orders of magnitude higher than some other commercially available sputtering systems, was a key selection factor as it provides an exceptionally pure environment to aid uniform film deposition. Developed and refined over almost 10 years, the company uses a number of novel materials along with novel system building ideas to reduce out-gassing, and enhance the level of cleanliness that can be achieved.

Surrey NanoSystems is additionally fitting the tool with a brand new reactive gas control system. Instead of a conventional DC pulse controlled process, the Gamma tool will use optical emission spectroscopy to control a high performance gas injection system, providing NIMP researchers with additional fine control over the characteristics and quality of film deposition.

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