What Is Sputtering?

Sputtering is a versatile form of physical vapor deposition which can be used to deposit coatings of conductive or insulating materials. It uses ionized gas to ablate (“sputter”) a target to create a thin film of that material on a substrate. Because there is no requirement for either the coating or substrate material to be electrically conductive, sputtering can be used to deposit coatings of very high chemical purity onto essentially any substrate.


Sputtering itself contains multiple sub-types, each with its own applicability. Among the many are direct current (DC), radio frequency (RF), mid-frequency (MF), pulsed DC and HiPIMS. We design our coating process to meet your specific needs and have the experience and equipment to execute any of these.


Among the primary considerations when choosing a type of sputtering is:

  • The chemical composition of the target
  • The chemical composition of the desired coating

While DC sputtering is often the best choice when starting with a metallic target (e.g. gadolinium) and ending with a metallic coating (gadolinium), this is not always the case. In order to provide the widest range of options to our customers, we have multiple sputtering technologies in our facility so that we can also sputter insulating targets (e.g. yttrium oxide), or start from a metallic target (e.g. tantalum) and inject a reactive gas to produce an insulating coating (e.g. tantalum oxide).


Alcadyne uses sputtering to apply Fluorinox™ for our semiconductor customers needing a halogenated plasma resistant coating for quartz. Fluorinox extends the life of the quartz consumables significantly and reduces chamber downtime by syncing maintenance cycles.

Other commonly sputtered coatings include:

Common Applications of Sputtering

A few specific use examples of sputtering:

  • Provide chemically resistant thin film coatings for the semiconductor industry. This is how we apply our proprietary Fluorinox™ coating.
  • Apply gadolinium films for neutron radiography. Used for non-destructive testing of assemblies in aerospace, energy and defense sectors.
  • Create thin, gas impermeable films to protect corrosion prone materials during day-to-day handling.
  • Dielectric stacks combining multiple materials to electrically isolate surgical tools.