The importance of precious metal sputter targets in thin-film deposition

Sputter targets are used to produce thin-films in deposition processes, such as evaporation, Ion Beam Sputtering (IBS), Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD), and High Target Utilization Sputtering (HiTus). These techniques are used in the field of optics or to manufacture semiconductors and medical devices. This article focuses on the significance of high-quality precious metal sputter targets in enhancing a multitude of deposition processes and end-products.

Thin-film deposition

During thin-film deposition processes, sputter targets are bombarded with ions to eject atoms, creating a vapor that coats the substrate with a thin film of the target material. The choice of target material is critical, affecting the thin film’s quality, adherence, and properties. High-quality precious metal targets like gold, silver, rhodium, and platinum are often used due to their unique physical and chemical properties.

The success of the deposition process and the end result, depends on the purity and quality of the target material. For instance, using high-quality pure gold targets can improve the electrical conductivity and corrosion resistance of the deposited thin films. On the other hand, pure silver targets offer excellent thermal and electrical conductivity. Rhodium and platinum targets provide high melting points, excellent corrosion resistance, and robust mechanical properties.

Precious metal sputter targets and specific deposition techniques


Evaporation techniques involve heating a solid material to its vaporization temperature, allowing the atoms to condense and form a thin film on a substrate. Precious metal targets are ideal for evaporation processes, as they exhibit high purity levels and excellent thermal stability, enabling precise control over film thickness and composition.

IBS and PVD:

Ion beam sputtering (IBS) and physical vapor deposition (PVD) techniques are commonly used for depositing high-quality films with tailored properties. Precious metal targets serve as the raw material in these processes, offering exceptional chemical purity and uniformity, resulting in films with superior characteristics. IBS is used in the Healthcare and Biomedical industries, for precise control over the thickness and uniformity of the coatings, ensuring the safety and longevity of medical devices and implants.

HiTus and Reactive Sputtering:

HiTus (High-Temperature Sputtering) and reactive sputtering methods are employed to deposit films with specific properties, such as improved hardness, wear resistance, or chemical reactivity. Precious metal targets, when combined with reactive gasses, allow researchers to achieve controlled film composition and precise deposition rates. This technique is widely used in Electronics and Semiconductors.

High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HIPIMS)

High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HIPIMS) enhances conventional magnetron sputtering by applying high-power pulsed DC voltage to the target. This results in increased ionization, improved film properties, enhanced target erosion, and precise control over film composition. HIPIMS is used in Aerospace and Defense industries enabling the deposition of high-quality films with tailored properties.

High-quality precious metal targets from IAM Drijfhout

At IAM Drijfhout, we are committed to providing high-quality precious metal targets that meet stringent purity requirements and deliver exceptional performance. Please contact us to request a quotatation.

We also recycle used targets. Learn more about that on our recycling page.