Electron Beam Evaporation

Design schematic of an electron beam e-beam ebeam source

Electron Beam (or e-beam) evaporation is a powerful physical vapor deposition process that allows the user to evaporate materials that are difficult or even impossible to process using standard resistive thermal evaporation. Some of these materials include high-temperature materials such as gold and titanium, and some ceramics like silicon dioxide and alumina. 

To generate an electron beam, an electrical current is applied to a filament which is subjected to a high electric field. This field causes electrons in the filament to escape and accelerate away. The electrons are then focused by magnets to form a beam and are then directed towards a crucible that contains the material of interest. The energy of the electron beam is transferred to the material, which causes it to start evaporating. Many metals, such as aluminum, will melt first and then start evaporating, while ceramics will sublimate. The material vapors then travel out of the crucible and coat the substrate.

If desired, a programmable sweep can be added to the electron beam to allow for customized heating of the material in the crucible.  Even though some materials, such as aluminum, can be easily evaporated from a resistive source, e-beam evaporation source allows for larger amounts of material to be deposited and higher rates can be achieved. The crucible is housed in a water-cooled copper hearth during evaporation, which can increase crucible lifetime. In addition, if multiple materials need to be deposited sequentially without breaking vacuum, our e-beam sources can be equipped with a carousel of multiple pockets.

An electron beam e-beam ebeam source inside a physical vapor deposition pvd thin film vacuum chamber

Angstrom Engineering systems with e-beam evaporation are used by our customers to deposit a wide variety of materials. Some of these materials include gold as an electrical contact in solar cell applications, silicon dioxide for optical films, among many others. We can create custom tools that integrate e-beam sources with other types of deposition methods to suit your processing needs.

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