Sputter coater – for large specimen

Q300 series from Quorum Technologies

Series Q300 sputter coaters are fully automated, modular coating systems with large vacuum chambers for applying fine-grained films for SEM, TEM and thin-film technology. The instrument is available in four models.

Q300RT Sputter coater for precious metals with 3 targets, rotary pumped, for coating samples with max. 20 cm diameter
Q300TT Sputter coater for precious metals and oxidising metals with 3 targets, high vacuum, for coating samples with max. 20 cm diameter
Q300TD Sputter coater for precious metals and oxidising metals with 2 targets for sequential coating of samples with max. 15 cm diameter, high vacuum
Q300TES Carbon, metal evaporation and sputter coating for precious metals and oxidising metals (interchangeable inserts) for coating samples with max. 15 cm diameter metal evaporation and 10 cm for sputtering and carbon evaporation, high vacuum

A touch screen is used to enter coating parameters, display the coating sequence and show error messages. Multiple users can store their recipes including all parameters. Awarded access rights protect selected parameters against deletion and unauthorized modification. Only the administrator has access to all settings. A number of optional sample stages ensure the efficient and repeatable coating of samples within a wide range of geometries.
Fully automatic control of the vacuum pressure for the sputtering process eliminates the need to adjust the amount of argon gas by needle valve. Depending on the preset amount of gas (vacuum) the sputter current is automatically adjusted to the desired value (mA). This enables diffuse sputtering with low sputter current for samples with a high topography.

Working principle of magnetron sputter coaters
Magnetron sputter coaters (also referred to as "Cool Sputter Coaters") are equipped with a dedicated magnet for this application, located in the sputter head (cathode) in the vicinity of the target. The purpose of this magnet is to keep the electrons released during the ionisation process away from the sample stage (anode) on its field lines.

This has a dual effect:

  • The electrons are available for ionisation of further process gas ions
  • Excessive heating is avoided, which would otherwise result from the electrons colliding with the sample stage

During sputter coating, a vacuum is produced in a vacuum chamber, and a process gas is continuously leaked into the vacuum chamber, preferably argon, which has an ideal ion size and is chemically inert with regard to reaction with other molecules.

Within a vacuum window from approx. 1 x 10-1 mbar to approx.  5 x 10-3 mbar, process gas atoms present in an electrical field are ionised, i.e.  a plasma is created. Positively charged argon atoms are accelerated towards the magnetron head with the target (cathode) and erode target atoms, which reach all surfaces within the vacuum chamber, including the sample to be coated.

Use of sputter coaters for thin-film applications
Sputter coaters can also be used for other thin-film applications such as for example the application of an electrically conductive film on glass capillaries or other surfaces, the creation of metallic multi-layer systems or the defined coating of specific probes such as cantilevers.

Specifications Q300 RT/TT/TD & TES
Instrument case585 mm x 470 mm x 410 mm (WxDxH)
Weight 36,5 kg
Work chamberBorosilicate glass 283 mm ID x 127 mm H
Safety shieldIntegral polyethylene terephthalate (PET) cylinder
Display145 mm x 320 mm x 240 mm colour graphic thin film transistor (TFT) display
User interfaceIntuitive full graphical interface with touch screen buttons, includes features such as a log of the last 10 coatings carried out and reminders for when maintenance is due
Sputter targetQ300RT  – incl. 3 gold targets
Q300TT  – incl. 3 chromium targets
Q300TD  – incl. 1 chromium & 1 gold target
Q300TES  – incl. 1 chromium target
Rotary pump 50 l/min. two-stage rotary pump with oil mist filter (order separately, see AG-DS102)
Turbo-molecular pump (only Q300 TT/TD/TES)Internally-mounted, 70 l/sec., air-cooled
Vacuum measurementPirani gauge as standard. A full range gauge (10428) is available as an option
Sputter vacuum rangeBetween 5x10-3 and 5x10-1 mbar
Specimen stage - rotation stage, 8“ (Q300 RT/TT)
- rotation stage, 4“ (Q300 TD/TES)
For alternative stages see options and accessories
Sputtering0-150 mA (0-80 mA Q300RT), to a pre-determined thickness (with optional FTM) or by the built-in timer. The maximium sputtering time is 60 minutes (without ‘breaking’ vacuum and with built in rest periods)
Q300 RT/TT - 3 magnetron heads for even coatings over a large area, Ø approx. 8”
Q300TD - 2 magnetron heads for sequential coatings with 2 different metals without breaking vacuum.
Q300TES – 1 magnetron head for even coatings over an area, Ø approx. 4”
Carbon evaporation   (only Q300 TES)A robust, ripple free DC power supply featuring pulse evaporation or ensures reproducible carbon evaporation from rod or fibre sources. Current pulse: 1–90 A
Metal evaporation (only Q300 TES)For thermal evaporation of metals from filaments or boats. For cleaning SEM or TEM apertures a standard molybdenum boat (supplied) can be fitted. Evaporation times: up to four minutes
Services and other information
GasesArgon sputtering process gas, 99.999%
Nitrogen for flushing and venting
Electrical supply90–250 V 50/60 Hz 1400 VA including rotary pump power. 110/240 V voltage selectable
ConformityCE conformity: Power factor correction. Complies with the current legislation (CE Certification) and ensures efficient use of power, which means reduced running costs
Options and accessories
10596 Extended height vacuum chamber (214 mm h x 283 mm Ø), recommended to increase distance target/sample surface
AL410-414Nine-place TEM grid holder
(only with Q300 TES)
"Sun and planets" style rotary stage. Three platforms, each 92 mm Ø.
10067 Standard stage with six stub positions for 15 mm or 6.5 mm or 1/8" pin stubs
10788 4” stub holder to accept up to 18 1/8 pin stubs
1036050 mm Ø rotary tilting stage. A rotary planetary style stage with variable tilt angle from horizontal to 30°. The platform has six positions for either 15 mm, 10 mm, 6.5 mm disc stubs or 1/8" pin stubs. Rotation speed is variable between preset limits. NB: Depending on specimen height, this stage may require the optional extended height cylinder.
10357 Rotate-tilt stage with six stub positions for 15 mm or 6.5 mm or 1/8" pin stubs, tilts up to 90° horizontaly
10358 Microscope slide stage for up to two 75 mm x 25 mm slides or eight stub positions for pin stubs.
12043 A stage to accept 9 20 x 20 cover slips. The top part of stage lifts off  and has a mechanism to lift the cover slips for easy removal.
123054 Place 25 mm stub stage with locking screws. May be fitted to 10360 rota cota stage.
108088 places for 25 or 30 mm polished embedded samples. Includes a polished brass tally.
1185614 places for 25 or 30 mm polished embedded samples. Includes a polished brass tally.
10787Adjusts to accept 2”, 3” & 4” wafers comes 10787 a 4” stub holder to accept up to 18 1/8 pin stubs.
10810Adjusts to accept 4” & 6" wafers comes 10882 a 4” stub holder to accept up to 18 1/8 pin stubs.
10882A 6” stub holder to accept up to 27 1/8 pin stubs
11223A lockable emergency stop (e-stop) switch which can be mounted on top of the system in a position easily accessible for the operator. It is provided with a key to release the knob after activation. NB: The addition of the e-stop does not inhibit or replace the normal on/off switch function. The e-stop can be retrofitted to existing systems
10428Coating shield assembly. Shields can be fitted to protect large surfaces from coating deposition, easily removable for ease of cleaning
(only with Q300 TD)
Rotating specimen stage to accept 4"/100 mm or 6"/150 mm wafers, with rotation variable between preset limits
(only with Q300 TD)
2 Film thickness monitors including oscillators, feed-through, quartz crystal holder and two C5460 quartz crystal
(only Q300 TES)
Film thickness monitor including oscillator, feed-through, quartz crystal holder and one C5460 quartz crystal
11520 (only with Q300 RT/TT)Film thickness monitor (FTM) attachment. Including oscillator, feed-through, quartz crystal holder and one C5460 quartz crystal
12937(only with Q300 TES)Conductance film monitor (CFM) attachment including housing, feedthrough, glass slides and cable. A factory fitted only option for monitoring sheet resistance of evaporated films allowing termination at a known resistance
12624 (only with Q300 RT/TT)Stage to accept 6” square wafer or masks
Conductive layer deposition

Sputter coaters are used to deposit a thin metal layer on the surface of substrates. In electron microscopy, sputtering is used to deposit an electrically conductive film on non-conductive surfaces. This is to prevent electrons from the microscope's electron beam from accumulating on the sample surface, which would cause it to become charged. Charging prevents the imaging of surfaces with SEM. The desired films should be extremely thin yet electrically conductive, with a thickness of 3 - 20 nm.

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