Thin film sources consist of magnetrons, evaporation thermal units, ion beams, and other sources that produce deposition materials (vapors or ions) in a thin film system. A deposition material is produced by the settling of particles or sediment from a solution or suspension mixture, or the production of a solid on a pre-existing surface. Magnetrons are a self-excited oscillator used as a radar transmitter tube. Magnetron sputtering is the most widely used process for vacuum thin film deposition. A magnetron tube is most commonly used in microwave ovens. A thin film evaporator is a unit operation used primarily to concentrate a solute. Ion beam milling is used to fabricate electronic and mechanical elements for industrial and military applications. A photon source is utilized by thin film sources to illuminate chemical reactions.
Thin film sources function in a variety of ways. Magnetrons incorporate high peak power, small size, efficient operation, and low-operating voltage. Emitted electrons from magnetrons interact with an electric field and a strong magnetic field to generate microwave energy. Due to the fact that the direction of the electric field that accelerates the electron beam is perpendicular to the axis of the magnetic field, magnetrons are sometimes referred to as crossed-field tubes. Within the magnetron sputtering process, gas ions out of plasma are accelerated towards a target consisting of the material to be deposited. Material is sputtered from the target and deposited on a substrate in the vicinity. Thin film evaporators should provide 99%+ evaporation in a single pass, concentrating diluted solutions to powder if necessary. Thin film evaporators are a thin product film that is generated over a heat transfer surface to promote minimal resistance to heat transfer. Parameters are set so that optimum film boiling occurs within thin film evaporators. Ion beam milling removes etches at a rate 3 to 10 times faster than the resist protectant thus preserving the material and features underneath the resist. Thin film sources, such as magnetrons, are designed and manufactured to meet most industry specifications.
Thin film sources can be found in use in a variety of applications. For example, thin film evaporators use an evaporation technique to remove the excess water when orange juice concentrate is made. Thin film sources are also utilized in telecommunications, imaging and printing equipment, radar and signal transmission, and biomedical equipment.