Directed Vapor Deposition of Electron-Beam Evaporant

We have developed a new electron-beam vapor deposition technology that combines traditional electron-beam evaporation with gas stream deposition techniques for high efficiency metal or reactive metal-oxides. Our system allows more rapid, more efficient deposition of multi-component coatings and films and overcomes many of the serious drawbacks of other methods.

Our system is an improvement over low vacuum gas stream techniques, which create the vapor upstream of the gas supply nozzle and are prone to clogging. The use of a rudimentary resistive heating means of evaporation leads to low deposition rates and the difficulty of evaporating important refractory elements and compounds. Our electron beam technique evaporates metals, semiconductors and ceramics, and allows reactive deposition using oxygen, ammonia, methane, etc., to reactively deposit materials such as oxides, nitrides, and carbides, at high rates. The evaporation system can also be used to simultaneously evaporate three (or more) metals with independently controlled fluxes to create binary, ternary and higher alloys, oxides, nitrides, and carbides. The system can also alternate between alloys for the production of microlaminated components. These could be used for multilayered capacitors, hard coatings, emissivity engineering, etc.

Since electron gun filaments last about ten times longer than resistive heating elements, our method is highly suitable for industrial-scale, continuous processing purposes. Moreover, our system can be brought to pressure in less than five minutes, which allows rapid changing of source, substrate, or other components during maintenance or reconfiguration shutdowns.

Our technology also represents an improvement over traditional high vacuum electron beam evaporation, which lacks a means to focus and direct the evaporant, thereby wasting significant amounts of expensive materials and producing coating non-uniformity. Since our system is directed and not limited to line of sight deposition, it produces directed deposition on any desired substrate in any position; nonuniform alloying ratios in the deposit are also prevented.

We are currently using our Directed Vapor Deposition Electron-Beam system to evaporate and deposit metals, semiconductors, and ceramics onto flat and fibrous substrates. The technology has important applications for rapid, economical, high quality multi-layered thermal barrier coatings, flat panel displays, high temperature superconductors, thin film photovoltaics, multilayered capacitors, multichip modules, and other high value-added coatings.

US 5,534,314

Inventor(s): Groves, Wadley

Type of Offer: Licensing

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