Breaking Down the Process of Sputtering

Written by: Denton Vacuum, LLC

Sputtering is responsible for many items that are used on a daily basis.

Understanding the process of sputtering is not as difficult and confusing as you may believe it to be. Below, you will find a brief explanation into how sputtering works as well as its’ importance to science.


Sputtering is the process of depositing thin films of a solid material, mainly metal, onto a substrate. Picture the bottom of a compact disc. If you look closely, you might be able to distinguish which layer has been sputtered onto the CD itself. To create that coating, there are various vacuum coating systems that can coat a disc in less than 2 seconds.

How it Works

The process first starts with gaseous plasma that is created and then accelerated through a sputter deposition system. The source is then ejected and comes out in the form of neutral particles. It then follows a narrow path to the substrate unless there is a specified metal that is placed directly in its path, in which it will then be coated by a thin film of that material placed.

Coating Systems

Technology has allowed users to utilize machines that can be used to create thin films in a small amount of time. Because sputtering utilizes a vacuum-based environment, the type of system used correlates to the quality of thin film produced. One example is a magnetron sputtering system. By incorporating multiple beams and optical sensors, thin films are rapidly produced at a quality level.

With sputtering being an integral part of science, one can only figure that technology will advance both machines and their processes to further enhance their usage over time.

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