September 30, 2023

An In-Depth Guide About Deposition Sources

deposition sources

deposition sources

Deposition sources are critical in a variety of scientific and industrial applications. They are important in fabricating thin films, coatings, and nanostructures. Understanding the many deposition sources and their properties is critical for researchers and engineers in materials science, semiconductor technology, and surface engineering. This comprehensive blog will delve into deposition sources, investigating their various sorts, principles, benefits, and drawbacks.

Different Types of Deposition Sources

Thermal Evaporation Sources

Thermal evaporation is a common deposition process that involves heating a solid material to its vaporisation temperature and then condensing the resulting vapour onto a substrate to form a thin layer. Thermal evaporation employs a variety of deposition sources, including resistive evaporation sources, electron beam evaporators, and Knudsen cells. Each source has distinct advantages regarding deposition rate, material compatibility, and film property control.

The Korvus Tech ORCA, organic deposition source, is designed explicitly for low-temperature evaporation processes, operating within a temperature range of 50 to 600°C. This source is excellent for evaporating sensitive organic compounds and low-temperature metals like lithium. The ORCA source ensures the integrity of the deposited films by providing exact control over the deposition process.

Sputtering Sources

Sputtering is another popular technique for thin film deposition. It involves bombarding a solid target with energetic ions, causing atoms or molecules to be ejected from the target and deposited onto a substrate. Magnetron sputtering and radio frequency (RF) are commonly used methods. Sputtering sources provide excellent film quality, uniformity, and versatility in material selection.

The FISSION Magnetron Sputtering Source is designed to accommodate 2″ diameter targets and offers versatility with compatibility for DC, RF, HiPIMS, and Pulsed-DC deposition techniques. With SmCo magnets, it accepts targets of various thicknesses for both non-magnetic and magnetic materials. 

Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) Sources

Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) is a deposition technique that relies on chemical reactions in the gas phase to produce a thin film. It involves the reaction of volatile precursors on a heated substrate, forming a solid film. CVD sources come in various designs, including atmospheric pressure CVD (APCVD), low-pressure CVD (LPCVD), and plasma-enhanced CVD (PECVD). Each CVD source offers unique capabilities and is suited for different applications, such as semiconductor device fabrication, optical coatings, and protective layers.

Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) Sources

Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) is a high-precision deposition technique used primarily for growing crystalline thin films and nanostructures with atomic-level control. In MBE, a molecular or atomic beam is directed at a heated substrate, allowing for the precise deposition of materials layer by layer. MBE sources typically employ effusion cells or solid-state sources to generate the molecular or atomic beams required for deposition.

Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) Sources

Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) is a versatile technique for depositing thin films with unique properties. It involves irradiating a target material with a high-energy pulsed laser, causing the ablation of material from the target. The ablated material then condenses onto a substrate to form a thin film. PLD sources are characterised by their ability to deposit a wide range of materials, including complex oxides and multi-component compounds, with high crystalline quality.

Benefits and Limitations of Deposition Sources

Deposition sources play a critical role in thin film deposition processes, offering numerous benefits but also presenting certain limitations. 


  1. Versatility: Different deposition sources cater to various deposition techniques, providing flexibility in process selection. For instance, sources like the FISSION Magnetron Sputtering Source can be paired with DC, RF, HiPIMS, and Pulsed-DC, offering versatility in deposition methods.
  1. Control over Film Quality: Deposition sources allow precise control over film properties such as thickness, composition, and morphology. Techniques like ALD and MBE enable atomic-scale precision, ensuring uniform and high-quality films.
  1. Customisation: Deposition sources can be tailored to specific requirements. For instance, the TAU Electron-beam Evaporation Source offers high accuracy, making it suitable for ultra-thin film deposition of high-temperature metals.
  1. Compatibility: Deposition sources are designed to accommodate a wide range of materials, from non-magnetic to magnetic and organic to high-temperature metals. This versatility allows deposition on diverse substrates and expands the possibilities for different applications.


  1. Material Compatibility: Certain deposition sources may have limitations regarding the types of materials they can effectively deposit. It’s crucial to consider the compatibility of the source with the target material to ensure successful deposition.
  1. Deposition Rate: Deposition sources may have varying deposition rates, impacting the production throughput. High deposition rates may be desirable for industrial-scale manufacturing, while low deposition rates may be necessary for precise control and high-quality films.
  1. Uniformity: Achieving uniform film thickness and composition across the entire substrate can be challenging with some deposition sources. Non-uniform deposition can affect the performance and functionality of the thin film in certain applications.
  1. Cost and Complexity: Certain deposition sources, such as MBE or PLD, can be expensive and require specialised expertise for operation and maintenance. The initial investment and operational complexity must be considered when selecting a deposition source.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Deposition Source

Here are key considerations when selecting a deposition source:

Material Compatibility

Determine if the deposition source is compatible with the target material, considering factors such as melting point, vapour pressure, and reactivity.

Deposition Technique

Different deposition techniques have unique advantages and limitations. Consider the technique that aligns with the desired film properties and application requirements.

Film Properties

Identify the required film properties, such as thickness, uniformity, crystallinity, and composition. Ensure that the selected deposition source can achieve these properties effectively.

Budget Constraints

Consider the financial aspects, including the initial cost of the deposition source, operational expenses, and the overall budget for the thin film deposition process.

Deposition Rate and Control

Evaluate the required deposition rate and the level of control needed over the deposition process. This includes deposition uniformity, thickness control, and process automation.

Wrap Up

Deposition sources are essential tools in thin film deposition, offering researchers and engineers a wide range of options. By understanding the different types of deposition sources, their advantages, limitations, and factors to consider when choosing one, you can make informed decisions that align with your specific application requirements.

Whether you are working on materials science research, semiconductor device fabrication, or surface engineering, selecting the right deposition source is crucial for achieving the desired film properties and performance. Consider the compatibility of the deposition source with your target material, the deposition technique that suits your needs, and the required film properties such as thickness, uniformity, and composition.

So, explore the realm of deposition sources, and may your thin film deposition endeavours be fruitful and groundbreaking!


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