Chapter 8: Sputtering and Sputter Deposition
3212.1Energy Dependence of Sputtering
Physical sputtering can be described in four general energy ranges,from energies at near the binding energy to many MeV.
a. Very low energies.
At incident ion energies of a few eV or so up to30
50 eV, there is very little sputtering. Early work (1960
suggestedthe presence of a sputter threshold in this energy regime below which nosputtering occurred. This has been found to be slightly misleading, and it isnow generally thought that the minimum ion energy for sputtering is thebinding energy of the most-weakly-bound surface atomThe yields in this energy range are typically below 10
40 eVion energies, and fall rapidly at lower ion energies to the 10
level andbelow. While this may seem insignificantly small, consider a high densityplasma source such as an ECR source (ECR stands for Electron CyclotronResonance). With 1 kW of microwave energy transmitted into the plasma,the effective ion production rate is on the order of 10
per second, or about15 amperes. If each of these ions reaches the wall with an energy of 10 eV(typical for this type of system), then the erosion rate at a yield of 10
is stillabout 10
atoms/sec. In a few minutes, this will deposit a monolayer ortwo on all surfaces within the tool, including any windows or insulators.Within an hour, this very tiny sputter yield has the potential to make opaque,conductive films throughout the chamber (including the quartz windowsthrough which the microwave power enters), which could make operationof the system difficult. Very low energy sputter yield measurements arevery difficult to make accurately and there is almost no mention of them inthe literature.
b. Knock-on energy regime.
At incident energies of 40 to perhaps1000 eV, the incoming particle has more than enough energy to dislodgetens to hundreds of atoms. The collision sequence is erratic, though, anddepends on exactly where the incident particle hits. After this first collision,the incident particle and the impacted one move on into the materialcausing more and more collisions. The nature of these collisions is difficultto follow, though, because it depends on exactly where the first particlehits. Eventually, though, these knock-on collisions may result in an atom ator near the surface being ejected from the solid.Knock-on sputtering has been modeled by computer calculationswhich follow the trajectories of a large number of incident particles.
Theyield for each individual collision sequence can vary widely, from 0 toperhaps 10 or more. The average result should then be characteristic of the