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Thermal Evaporator


Contact Information

CHA IndustriesFaculty Contact: Aaron Hawkins
Maintenance RequestStaff Contact: Jim Fraser
SCHEDULER IS REQUIREDStudent Contacts: Matt Hamblin
General Information
Equipment Specifications
Operating Procedure
Evaporation Reference
Processes & Deposition Data

The thermal evaporator uses resistive energy to evaporate thin films onto a given substrate. It can deposit materials with a specified thickness of up to 1500 nanometers. The thickness is controlled by the use of a quartz crystal monitor. Evaporants used in the BYU lab include silver, gold, aluminum, nickel, and chromium. Eighteen wafers can be processed simultaneously. Up to three different layers may be evaporated in one run.

  1. Power Supply: 3500 W
  2. Cryopump: Pressure of 10-8 Torr
  3. Sources: 3 in parallel individually selectable.
  4. Substrate Heat Control: 0 - 540 Degrees Celsius
  5. Measurements: 43"x84"x35" (Width x Height x Depth)\
  6. External Tube Diameter: 20"

Start up evaporator, program deposition meter

  1. The nitrogen and vacuum should be on at all times.
  2. Turn on power supply
  3. Make sure the chiller is on.
  4. On deposition meter, select preprogrammed option OR
    1. Press program to enter programming mode
    2. Display should change to that shown here
    3. Press enter ([E]) until selector bar is over large number on left titled film
    4. Enter desired program number according to chart
    5. Press program to exit programming mode

Program deposition meter

    1. Press program
    2. Display should change to that shown here
    3. Set stop thickness. Press enter until density slot is selected.
    4. Set density. Press Enter.
    5. Set Z-value Press Enter.
    6. Tooling factor should be ---%. If so, Press program, you're done.
  1. See Video of deposition meter being programmed
    1. Partial List of common material properties
    2. Extensive list of material parameters available in XTM/2 Deposition Monitor Operating Manual

Open bell jar and load wafers and targets

  1. Flip function selector switch from "OFF" to "Manual" Caution both vacs must be shut!
  2. Flip nitrogen vent switch until bell jar vents (you will hear and feel nitrogen escaping). Close nitrogen.
    1. need to take picture.
  3. Flip function selector switch to "OFF"
    1. This step prevents accidental opening of the vacuum valves.
  4. Flip raise bell jar switch. There will be a 10s delay and the jar will then open. When jar is completely raised, flip switch back to middle position.
  5. Insert wafers: Wafers snap into place. Replace glass slides with new clean ones. Close shutter.
    1. shutter operation
  6. select electrode ( front middle back). Load targets.
    1. Types of targets: boats and rods
  7. Establish orbiter's rotation speed.
    1. Slider switch in middle position turns orbital on.
    2. Use speed dial to adjust rotational speed.
    3. Look inside to top of bell jar to gauge speed.
    4. Turn off orbital before lowering bell jar.

Close bell jar and pump down the chamber

  1. Flip bell jar switch down. As before there is a 10 second delay before the jar begins to lower.
  2. Pay attention as jar lowers. It sometimes hangs up on the orbital structure. If it makes contact with the orbitals, flip the switch back up immediately; raise the jar & retry.
  3. Open rough pump
  4. Flip switch to manual
  5. Open roughing switch.
  6. Turn on thermogauge power. Wait until pressure drops to .5 torr.
  7. See Pictures for above instructions
  8. Initiate cyropump.
    1. Turn off roughing pump. Make sure switch is all the way closed (i.e. hissing sound had stopped) before flipping up the high vac switch.
      1. The pressure needle should bury left.
    2. flip ionization gauge gauge to 10-4 range
    3. Turn on filament power. Turn on degas & wait 5 mins. If the selector switch is above 10-4, the filament will turn off and you won't get any pressure readings.
    4. Turn off degas. When gauge gets to 2 range, flip selector to 10-5. repeat for 10-6. you may have to wait 30-60 mins for the pump to get down past 4x10-6

Begin Evaporation

  1. Turn on heater power. Make sure selector switch is on 100amps (bottom numbers)
  2. Rotate current dial slowly increasing current.
  3. If you approach 80 amps, flip the selector switch from 100 to 500.
  4. The amount of current required varies for diferent metals. This link describes specific process recipies.
  5. When you begin to get a deposition, press open shutter on deposition meter and open shutter inside bell jar by flipping shutter switch down.
    1. Dep meter gives timer + thickness
  6. Adjust current up or down to maintain ideal deposition rate for specific metal.
  7. At desired thickness, close shutter.
  8. Slowly ramp down current when finished.

Open bell jar

  1. Turn off high vac switch (see step 5)
  2. Wait 10 mins for everything to cool down.
  3. Follow remaining steps in 3b.

Turn off Equipment

  1. In the Back
    1. Turn off vac
    2. Turn off nitrogen (if no one else is using it.)
    3. For pictures see step 1.
  2. Open rough vac briefly to seal shamber
  3. Make sure heater power is off, gauge power is off
  4. Turn off main power breaker


For more information on thermal evaporation, see our Metal Deposition page.

Quick Materials Evaporation Reference

1) Quick reference for materials common to IML lab

Current (A)80190185190200
Dep. Prog#23--1

2) Table of density and Z-ratio values

MaterialSymbolMelting Temperature (°C)Density (bulk, g/cm3)Z-Ratio
Cadmium sulfideCdS17504.831.02
Cadmium tellurideCdTe10416.20.98
Calcium fluorideCaF213603.180.775
Carbon (diamond)C35503.520.22
Carbon (graphite)C36522.253.26
Copper(I) Sulfide (Alpha)Cu2S11005.60.69
Copper(I) Sulfide (Beta)Cu2S11005.80.67
Copper(II) SulfideCuS11004.60.82
Gallium arsenideGaAs12385.311.59
Gold GermanideAuGe(12%)-17.630.3972
Indium antimonideInSb5355.760.769
Indium tinideInSn(80-20wt%)-7.250.8176
Lead sulfidePbS11147.50.566
Lithium fluorideLiF8962.640.774
Magnesium oxideMgO26423.580.411
Manganese SulfideMnS-3.990.94
MaterialSymbolMelting Temperature (°C)Density (bulk, g/cm3)Z-Ratio
Nickel chromideNiCr(80-20wt%)-8.520.3258
Potassium chlorideKCl7701.982.05
Silicon dioxide (fused quartz)SiO216102.21.07
Silicon monoxideSiO17022.130.87
Silver bromideAgBr4326.471.18
Silver chlorideAgCl4555.561.32
Sodium chlorideNaCl8002.171.57
Titanium oxideTiO-4.9N/A
Titanium dioxideTiO218254.260.4
Tungsten carbideW2C286015.60.151
Zinc oxideZnO19755.610.556
Zinc selenideZnSe11005.420.722
Zinc sulfideZnS17004.10.775
MaterialSymbolMelting Temperature (°C)Density (bulk, g/cm3)Z-Ratio

Aluminum (Al)

  1. New boat:
    1. Slowly ramp current (50 Amps/min) up to 200 Amps.
    2. Wait (patiently) until samples are molten.
    3. Slowly increase current until the deposition rate is nonzero.
    4. More rapidly increase deposition rate to 10 Å/s.
    5. Maintain this deposition rate until you have reached desired thickness or sample is depleted.
    6. Slowly ramp current down (50 Amps/min) to zero.
  2. Used boat:
    1. Slowly ramp current (50 Amps/min) up to 250 Amps.
    2. Wait 15 min.
    3. Increase current to 300.
    4. Wait (patiently) until samples are molten. Depending on the condition of the boat, you may need to increase the current above 300 to get the aluminum to melt.
    5. Slowly increase current until the deposition rate is nonzero.
    6. More rapidly increase deposition rate to 10 Å/s.
    7. Maintain this deposition rate until you have reached desired thickness or sample is depleted.
    8. Slowly ramp current down (50 Amps/min) to zero.
  3. Notes:
    1. If you ramp too quickly, you'll break the boats. If you vent the chamber too quickly, you'll break the boats.
    2. If you are doing multiple depositions, you do not need to let the chamber cool down between depositions.
    3. Aluminum alloys with the tungsten boats, so you won't be able to evaporate your entire sample. Don't be afraid to ramp up the current (slowly) and try to evaporate as much as possible, but don't go above 400 Amps. You'll blow a fuse.
  4. Pressure should be in 10-6 range.
  5. Maximum deposited from one boat: 6200 Å.
  6. Ideal deposition rate: 10 Å/s.
  7. Number of aluminum pellets on boat not to exceed three.
  8. Ideal "warm up current": 200 Amps.
  9. Program number on deposition meter: 1.

Chromium (Cr)

    1. Ramp current up slowly (50 Amps/s) to 80 Amps.
    2. Let rod warm to a healthy glow.
    3. Increase current slowly until the deposition rate is nonzero.
    4. Increase current to obtain desired deposition rate.
    5. Notes
      1. Data based on use of chromium on tungsten rod.
      2. Rods tend to break if current ramped too quickly, particularly when ramping down.
      3. Chrome sublimes.
    6. High deposition rates are possible, but current tends to max out around 120 Amps. Further increases in current do little good and may cause additional strain on rod??
    7. Ideal "warm up current": 80 Amps.
    8. Maximum thickness with one rod: ----
    9. Ideal deposition rate: ~30 Å/s.
    10. Pressure should be in 10-6 range.
    11. Program number on deposition meter: 2.

Nickel (Ni)

Gold (Au)

Other materials