Insights from industry

How is Ion Beam Sputtering Used in Optics?

An interview with Mark Campo, introducing ion beam sputtering (IBS) technology and its application in precision optical coatings, conducted at Photonics West 2019.

What is Ion Beam Deposition Sputtering?

Ion beam sputtering (IBS), also known as ion beam deposition (IBD), is a type of sputtering that uses a gridded ion source to deliver ionized gasses to a target substrate. It is a different method of sputtering materials and depositing films than magnetron sputtering and ion-assisted deposition, which use an e-beam or thermal evaporation sources. In IBS, an ion beam bombards and sputters the target material which is then deposited on the substrate.

IBS is widely recognized as meeting the highest standards in terms of film performance and precision. Ion beam sputtering has the ability to deposit near bulk-like quality material. Exceptional environmental stability and durability comes from the very dense and highly uniform films with excellent adhesion properties. These aspects are critically needed in applications such as high-power laser diodes, mirrors or DWDM filters.

Companies that produce laser mirror coatings, laser diode coatings, high volume high-end precision optical coatings or even multi-notch filters for biomedical use typically use IBS because it is the best technique for these applications.

Veeco has successfully focused on the high-end market, a sub-segment of optical coatings, for many years. An example of a low-end optical coating would be an anti-reflective coating which is ideal for eye glasses. The requirements for low-end coatings are much simpler to achieve, requiring low-cost, high-volume processing. IBS excels in high-end applications.

As these tools are used in actual production environments, significant expertise is required to design IBS systems to ensure they can run ion sources repeatably and reliably for manufacturers. Veeco also has an immense process knowledge and expertise on the actual optical coating side. This enables us to deliver not only exceptional technology to our customers, but also unparalleled process support.

How is IBS associated with thin films?

Ion beam sputtering is a method for depositing highly-directional thin films in the angstrom-to –several-micron range. Including dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) optical filters where hundreds of thin, precise layers are needed, IBS allows for extremely tight control of these ultra-thin layers. Additional levels of control can be achieved with integration of optical monitoring to observe the optical deposition process and adjust the process parameters in real-time to ensure a successful product is made.

Learn More About Ion Beam Sputtering Deposition of Fluoride Thin Films

This is extremely critical to satisfy the spectral requirements that customers are looking for. Moreover, ion beam sputtering provides a wide range of capabilities that meet the needs of different optical markets.

Please give an overview of the IBS solution offered by Veeco.

Veeco’s SPECTOR® IBS suite of systems is a range of ion beam sputtering technologies ideal for precision optical coatings and optoelectronic devices. Veeco’s technology solutions were showcased at Photonics West 2019.

In optics, manufacturers must have a tool designed with the right geometries and form factors to deal with the various types of optics, i.e. flat, round and different size substrates. The SPECTOR platform is ideally suited to handle these variations across a broad portfolio of high-quality optics.

What industries is the SPECTOR suitable for?

SPECTOR serves the needs of many different industries, including telecom, laser and biomedical markets.

Ion beam sputtering became particularly significant about 20 years ago for the telecom industry. SPECTOR remains important today for creating filters that allow the division of data into multiple channels of light, which can then be combined again to convert back into electronic data.

Today’s telecom companies heavily use dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) filters, in addition to coarse wavelength division multiplexing (CWDM) filters, which many of their customers rely on. We are seeing this market come back in the form of a subset of the transition to 5G. This next generation of mobile communications is a refresh in technology with more critical requirements, design capabilities and again: more fibers and filters.

Veeco is also involved in the industrial laser market. This sector has been historically driven by gas-phased lasers but has been recently moving to semiconductor-based lasers that use IBS for the reflective and anti-reflective coatings. In either case, these lasers interact with various mirrors and filters within the laser module itself. As those lasers reach higher levels of power, it can destroy the thin film, causing film requirements to become very critical. This will cause a change in color, cracks and peeling of the glass, among other challenges. Ion beam sputtering is required to facilitate these high-end capabilities and remains a large part of the laser market.

Similar to above, we also see telecom and LiDAR-based companies moving towards solid state lasers. Driven by 5G and automotive industries, higher power light delivery systems will be required. In both VCSEL and diode-based approaches, Veeco offers solutions in each of these spaces.

SPECTOR also supports other industries including biomedical, where there are various filter designs needed to coat lenses in high-end florescence microscopes. In the aerospace industry, laser-based gyroscopes for guidance systems in airplanes require IBS technology.

Why is Veeco attending Photonics West 2019?

First and foremost, this is one of the biggest optics shows for us in the U.S. and gives us a platform to connect with many of our customers, meet prospective new customers and interact with our peers.

It’s important for us to be here and highlight our leadership in the space.

About Mark Campo

An 18-year veteran of Veeco, Mark Campo is currently the director of product marketing for Veeco’s AD&E business unit, a position he has held since March 2018. In this role, Mr. Campo is responsible for driving the product development cycle across manufacturing, marketing, development/engineering and sales for ion beam deposition systems, OEM ion sources, and respective upgrades and services for the mid-high-end optical coatings markets. Previously, he held several engineering and marketing positions at Veeco.

Mr. Campo earned his MBA in general management from Dowling College, and has a bachelor’s of engineering in material science and engineering from Stony Brook University.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

Alina Shrourou

Written by

Alina Shrourou

Alina graduated from The University of Manchester with a B.Sc. in Zoology. Alongside her love of animals, Alina discovered a passion for writing and science communication during her degree. In her spare time, Alina enjoys exercising her creative side through baking, as well as going to the gym in order to lessen the guilt of consuming the baked goods.


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