An Introduction to Vacuum Deposition Systems

Vacuum deposition systems are high-technology tools that allow deposition of thin layers of various materials on target objects. Such thin layers of material can be used as medical device coatings and optical coatings to prevent scratching and wearing. These layers are often so thin that such application is not feasible by any other method.  At just a few atoms thick, the material produced by these vacuum deposition systems is still incredibly durable, with a likeness to that of a diamond. Some of these vacuum deposition systems are highly automated for convenience, while others provide still more advanced commands for special projects.

The high-quality results these machines produce are necessary for industries such as the manufacturing of semi-conductors where precision is paramount. Semi-conductor coatings can provide a durable, yet lightweight solution to protect them from high-heat, high-pressure environments.

One method used by vacuum deposition systems, called sputtering, is used by globally by such large commercial firms such as General Electric, Varin, Intel, Motorola, Pentax, IBM, 3M and Kodak. Sputtering remains a versatile and reliable coating method.

To prevent contamination, precautions must be taken by those who operate a vacuum deposition system.  The oils in human skin can weaken the desired effects of vacuum systems (as such oils must removed by the vacuum pumps), so gloves must always be worn when handling the machine’s interior. In fact, operators of vacuum deposition systems are often certified by their employers, so they know the proper protocol when handling the systems.

Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) is one of several sputtering methods.  PECVD uses chemical interactions to create a diamond-like coating on the target material. The coating is thin, some 100 micrometers. PECVD works by first heating-up the target material into a gas, then into a plasma, and then cooled onto the target by condensation. The substrate becomes so hot that it rivals the temperatures found on the surface of our sun. This kind of heat is needed in order to rearrange the particles in such a way that they can condense securely on the target object.

Sputtering systems are incredibly important for technology today. Because components in medical, computer and communication devices can be highly sensitive, they require strong protection from heat and pressure, for example, so as not to interfere with their functions.  Such is an example of an application that vacuum deposition systems offer; a solution to the heat and pressure problems present in a vast array of industries.


Guest post is provided by Denton Vacuum, LLC. Denton provides vacuum deposition systems, such as to provide a diamond-like carbon coating only atoms thick. Visit Denton Vacuum at for more information.