The vacuum arc is an electrical discharge that burns in its self-generated
plasma. A very distinct feature of the vacuum arc plasma is its high
ionization and energy contents compared to conventional evaporation or
sputtering. The ions reach energies of 20-100 eV and the arc plasma is fully
ionized, without any neutral vapor and with even a large fraction of multiple
ionized atoms.

Multiple arc discharges on carbon cathode (I = 3 kA; t=1.5 ms)

Therefore very special plasma conditions of vacuum arc plasma allows
the deposition of denser films with better adherence in comparison
to all other PVD techniques.

Currently, the vacuum arc deposition (VAD) technique is well established
in industry, primarily to deposit wear protective hard coatings such as
metal nitrides and carbides onto tools and components.

So far cathodic vacuum arc evaporation has not been considered as
an alternative plasma source for ionized PVD in semiconductor
manufacturing or micro systems production. The major concerns with
cathodic arc evaporation is given by the natural emission of micro-
scopic liquid metal droplets at the plasma source that can easily get
deposited on the substrate surface.

Our recent developments have shown that effective plasma filtering
techniques can be employed to completely suppress the droplet
deposition on the substrates. A considerable deposition rate can be
achieved if those filters are combined with a high current arc
plasma source.

Our Filtered High Current Arc source offers  a number of advantages for
the production of high quality  thin films. Arc deposition is currently
established for PVD coating for some applications. The real advantage of
the Filter-HCA Technology is that film growth and structure  can be
influenced by the deposition parameters in an unique and so far
unknown way.

  • Free of droplets
  • Highest smoothness
  • Dense structure – amorphous to nanocrystalline
  • High deposition rate - best controllability
  • Industrial experience

Application: hard disc
and read/write head,
coated with superhard

  • Super hard Carbon coatings for informations storage systems
  • Copper metallization and barrier coating in microelectronics
  • Hard coatings for micro/nano systems
  • Sensors
  • Super thin tunnel barriers