MagKeeper Sputtering Cathode from Lesker Improves Vacuum Deposition Equipment

The MagKeeper, an advanced sputtering cathode developed by The Kurt J. Lesker Company is bringing new capabilities to the vacuum deposition industry by using magnetic technology to eliminate the permeable elastomeric seals typically used. The novel design makes the deposition tool truly hermetic, eliminating unwanted gas loads due to permeation through the cathode, the company says. 

It dramatically reduces the number of seals in a cathode, while increasing user friendliness and decreasing the operating pressure of the cathode. The company was awarded a patent for the design in October 2018 and has since brought the product to market. 

“As far as the magnets go, in round cathodes like this they’re basically arranged in two parts — an outer ring magnet and a center disc magnet – that are oriented in the same plane but polarized in opposite directions,” explains Matt Jaszcar, product manager. “In that arrangement the field lines take the shape of a toroid and the magnetic field then acts as a trap for the charged particles upon plasma ignition. The sputtering process utilizes the kinetic/ballistic interactions of the particles in the plasma to remove material from the target and coat the desired substrate with that material.” Jaszcar, along with colleagues Rob Belan and Roger Patterson, designed the cathode. 

The cathode is available in a range of sizes from 2″ up to 4″ diameters and can be outfitted with a special magnet pack that enables the effective sputtering of magnetic materials such as nickel and iron. The new design also improves user friendliness by making target changes easier, as the target is held in place using the magnets in the gun eliminating the need for tools to change a target.  

The cathode also benefits from a redesigned anode or dark space shield and the elimination of the target hold down ring. These mechanical enhancements increase the available active area of the sputtering target and enable the cathode to operate at half the typical pressure achievable with conventional cathode designs. 

Based in Jefferson Hills, Pennsylvania, Lesker is a provider of a broad range of sophisticated vacuum equipment and materials used in the manufacture of LEDs, optics, UHV/synchrotrons, electronics, coatings, medical products and for aerospace and R&D applications. 

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