Thin Film Deposition Machine

The Thin Film Deposition Machine, located in Systems Engineering’s MEMS Clean Room, is used to coat objects in thin layers of a substance onto a substrate. The Thin Film Deposition machine is also known as “The Sputtering Machine”.

Thin films are thin material layers ranging from fractions of a nanometre to several micrometres in thickness. The act of applying a thin film to a surface is known as thin-film deposition. Thin-film deposition is any technique for depositing a thin film of material onto a substrate or onto previously deposited layers.


Sputtering is a process whereby atoms are ejected from a solid target material due to bombardment of the target by energetic ions. The target can be kept at a relatively low temperature, since the process is not one of evaporation, making this one of the most flexible deposition techniques. It is especially useful for compounds or mixtures, where different components would otherwise tend to evaporate at different rates.
Sputter deposition is a method of depositing thin films by sputtering, i.e. eroding, material from a “target,” e.g., SiO2, which then deposits onto a “substrate,” e.g., a silicon wafer. Resputtering, in contrast, involves re-emission of the deposited material, e.g., SiO2, during the deposition also by ion bombardment.

Sputtered atoms ejected into the gas phase are not in their thermodynamic equilibrium state, and tend to deposit on all surfaces in the vacuum chamber. A substrate (such as a wafer) placed in the chamber will be coated with a thin film.