Cathodic Arc Deposition is a widely used industrial-scale process for applying high-quality thin film coatings. This process works under vacuum conditions using specially designed deposition heads. Cathodic Arc Deposition can be operated in either DC or puls
January 17, 2019
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The arc current is concentrated over a small surface area on the cathode which creates an extremely high current density (~ 1012 A/m2). This high current density is associated with an extremely high power density (~ 1013 W/m2) that produces a localized phase transformation of the solid target (the cathode material) to almost fully ionized deposition plasma. The plasma expands rapidly into the ambient vacuum toward the substrate. At the time of deposition on the substrate, the plasma has ion velocities with kinetic energies of about 20 eV for light elements and 200 eV for heavy elements. This can be compared to sputtering, where the energy is a few eV at most.
There are a number of advantages to the higher ion energies associated with Cathodic Arc Deposition. For example, Cathodic Arc Deposition films tend to be denser and have better adhesion characteristics than films produced using other methods. The deposited atoms penetrate the surface, locking the coating to the surface with high adhesion.
The energetic ions created by Cathodic Arc Deposition also allow the use of lower substrate temperatures compared to other processes. This is because the Cathodic Arc Deposition ions carry sufficient energy to form dense, compact films without the need for additional thermal energy to be provided by the substrate.