a1 Plasma & Coatings Physics Division, IFM-Materials Physics, Linköping University, SE-581 83 Linköping, Sweden
High-power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) is a promising sputtering-based ionized physical vapor deposition technique and is already making its way to industrial applications. The major difference between HiPIMS and conventional magnetron sputtering processes is the mode of operation. In HiPIMS the power is applied to the magnetron (target) in unipolar pulses at a low duty factor (<10%) and low frequency (<10 kHz) leading to peak target power densities of the order of several kilowatts per square centimeter while keeping the average target power density low enough to avoid magnetron overheating and target melting. These conditions result in the generation of a highly dense plasma discharge, where a large fraction of the sputtered material is ionized and thereby providing new and added means for the synthesis of tailor-made thin films. In this review, the features distinguishing HiPIMS from other deposition methods will be addressed in detail along with how they influence the deposition conditions, such as the plasma parameters and the sputtered material, as well as the resulting thin film properties, such as microstructure, phase formation, and chemical composition. General trends will be established in conjunction to industrially relevant material systems to present this emerging technology to the interested reader.
(Received July 16 2011)
(Accepted January 09 2012)
This section of Journal of Materials Research is reserved for papers that are reviews of literature in a given area.