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Sputtering Targets: Overview

About Sputtering Deposition

Sputtering deposition is one of the most common processes used for thin film deposition: the coating of a surface with a layer of material ranging from fractions of a nanometer to several micrometers in thickness. Thin film deposition is essential to manufacturing of many modern electronic and optical components

Sputtering deposition uses a plasma, usually formed from a non-reactive gas, to bombard a target---a source of the material to be deposited as a thin film---and knock the atoms of the target material out of its bulk. The ejected atoms then land on the substrate and form a thin film. Since the target does not need to be heated, the technique is very flexible for a wide range of applications. Targets can be composed of pure elements as well as compounds or mixtures.

Types of Sputtering Targets

Standard Targets

Our standard target sizes range from 1" to 8" in diameter and from 2mm to 1/2" thick. We can also provide targets outside this range in addition to just about any size rectangular, annular, or oval-shaped target. Other shapes are available by request.

Rotatable Targets

For large area thin film deposition, American Elements produces rotatable sputtering targets via casting or plasma deposition onto a tubular substrate. Rotatable sputtering targets are available up to 1,000 mm in length and can be produced from a number of single element, oxide and alloy materials for use in many applications where large film areas are required, such as photovoltaic device fabrication. All machined pieces are produced by casting oversized blanks, and machining down to required specifications. They are usually machined to tolerances of +0.010"/-0" on diameter, length or width, and +/-0.005" on thickness. Larger targets are also finished to a flatness within 0.015". We can accommodate tighter tolerances upon request.

Rods and Plates

American Elements casts any of the rare earth metals and most other advanced material into rod, bar or plate form, as well as other machined shapes. All as-cast rods, bars and plates are produced from either the pure metal Ingots or sublimed metals. We have a variety of standard sized rod molds, from a minimum of 1/4" diameter up to 3" diameter for most rod needs. Plates are also offered in standard thicknesses, from 1/4" thick to 1" thick. Maximum rod lengths and maximum plate sizes are dependent on melt capacity and furnace room. Small diameter rods may have only a 4"-6" maximum cast length, whereas larger diameter rods may be cast up to about 16" long. Plate sizes can be cast up to a size of 24" x 16". As-cast rods or plates are saw-cut to length or final dimensions, and the metal surface may have visible flow marks.

Appplications for Sputtering Targets

Electronics and Semiconductors.

The first commercial use for sputtering deposition was in semiconductors and electronics for front end and back end packaging, diffusion barriers, compounds, phase change memory, IC interconnects, micro contacts, and in sensors, MEMs and LEDs. Sputtering targets and evaporation materials composed of copper and copper alloys, including copper-nickel and copper-chromium, as well as nickel and nickel alloys such as nickel-aluminum, nickel-vanadium, nickel-platinum, nickel-copper and nickel-chromium, are manufactured for packaging and other applications. Additional materials include aluminum (both in its elemental form and alloyed with copper and silicon as aluminum-copper, aluminum-silicon, and aluminum-copper-silicon) and titanium, both as the pure element and as titanium-tungsten alloy. The conductive and solder wetting properties of gold make it an important deposition material, including gold alloys such as gold-tin, gold-antimony, gold-silicon, gold-copper, and gold-germanium. Phase change alloy targets composed of such as germanium-antimony alloyed with tellurium, silver, indium and platinum are used in the production of phase change electronic memory. Transparent conductive oxides (TCO) for light emitting applications such as sensors and light emitting diodes (LED), including indium-tin oxide (ITO) and zinc oxide doped with aluminum and other elements, can also be deposited from a sputtering target source. American Elements also produces ultra high purity sputtering targets and other evaporation materials for electronic applications composed of hafnium, molybdenum, silver, iridium, rhodium and ruthenium.

Anti-Abrasive Coatings for Wear Protection.

Electroplating active surfaces of tools and dies to protect against wear and extend life has given way in recent years to the deposition of these coating materials as a more cost effective alternative. Typical protective materials using sputtering targets and other evaporation materials include titanium, titanium carbide, silicon carbide, boron carbide, aluminum, nickel, chromium and tungsten carbide.

Magnetic Materials.

The use of high strength magnets have found application in numerous industries including automotive, aerospace, biomedical imaging and auditory engineering. Sputtering targets and other evaporation materials are manufactured by American Elements from samarium cobalt and neodymium iron boron alloy, both advanced magnetic materials.

Optical and Architectural Glass.

The ability of certain elements to selectively absorb and emit highly specific wave length ranges and reduce glare due to their high refractive index when deposited on a glass substrate resulted in the development of sputtering and evaporation materials of elemental rare earths, such as neodymium and dysprosium and many other optically active and anti-reflective (AR) materials. Architectural glass for residential, commercial and office building applications has also benefited from the availability of these types of coatings.

Photovoltaic Solar Energy Panels.

The three primary solar energy technologies (silicon based, Copper Indium Selenide (CIS) and Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS)) are layered structures that require sputtering targets and other evaporation materials at several stages including certain transparent conductive oxides (TCO) such as indium tin oxide (ITO) and doped zinc oxide as the top electrode, molybdenum as the back plate, and antimony telluride and zinc telluride in CIS and CIG photovoltaic cells.

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells.

Typical solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) designs contain an electronically conductive low density cathode, a high density, ionically conductive electrolyte, and an electronically conductive open air electrode. Sputtering targets are produced by American Elements to meet the needs of each of these layers. Available perovskite cathode materials include Lanthanum Strontium Manganite (LSM), Lanthanum Strontium Ferrite (LSF), Lanthanum Strontium Cobaltite Ferrite (LSCF), Lanthanum Strontium Chromite (LSC), and Lanthanum Strontium Gallate Magnesite (LSGM) with doping levels and other parameters to customer specifications. Available ionically conductive electrolyte materials includeYSZ (Yttria stabilized Zirconia), SCZ (Scandium doped Zirconia), Samarium doped Ceria, Gadolinium doped Ceria and Yttrium doped Ceria. These fuel cells materials are marketed under the trademark AE Fuel Cells™.

Data Storage.

Sputtering targets and other evaporation materials are now essential to the coating and manufacturing of optical storage devices such as CDs and DVDs to provide both wear protection and reflectivity. Re-writeable optical disks additionally make use of thin-films of phase change material for the recording layer.

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Metallic & Elemental Sputtering Targets
Oxide Sputtering Targets
Alloy Sputtering Targets
Compound Sputtering Targets

American Elements specializes in producing high density, ultra high purity (99.9% to 99.9999%) sputtering targets and other deposition materials for all applications using both vacuum melt/casting and hot isostatic pressing (HIP) technology. Sputtering targets are available monoblock or bonded with dimensions and configurations up to 820 mm, and are produced with hole drill locations and threading, beveling, grooves and backing designed to work with both older sputtering devices and the latest processing equipment, such as large area coating and flip-chip applications. Research-sized targets are also available, as are custom sizes and alloy compositions. All targets and evaporation materials are analyzed using best demonstrated techniques including X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), Glow Discharge Mass Spectrometry (GDMS), and Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP). In addition, bulk evaporation materials are available as pellets, rod, pieces, granules, slugs, lump, ingot, shot and deposition cones.

Recent Research & Development for Sputtering Targets

  • GS Zhu, DL Yan, HR Xu, AB Yu, Structural and electric properties of BaSn0.15Ti0.85O3 films on ITO/glass substrate by RF sputtering from powder target, Materials Letters, Volume 140, 1 February 2015
  • Cheng-Che Li, Dong-Hau Kuo, Ying-Sheng Huang, The effect of temperature on the growth and properties of green light-emitting In0.5Ga0.5N films prepared by reactive sputtering with single cermet target, Materials Science in Semiconductor Processing, Volume 29, January 2015
  • Liangqi Ouyang, Ming Zhao, Daming Zhuang, Junfeng Han, Li Guo, Xiaolong Li, Mingjie Cao, The relationships between electronic properties and microstructure of Cu(In,Ga)Se2 films prepared by sputtering from a quaternary target, Materials Letters, Volume 137, 15 December 2014
  • Gui-Gen Wang, Jie Zeng, Jie-Cai Han, Li-Yi Wang, Highly transparent and conductive Ga-doped ZnO films with good thermal stability prepared by dual-target reactive sputtering, Materials Letters, Volume 137, 15 December 2014
  • M.J. Pinzón, J.E. Alfonso, J.J. Olaya, G.I. Cubillos, E. Romero, Influence of the electrical power applied to the target on the optical and structural properties of ZrON films produced via RF magnetron sputtering in a reactive atmosphere, Thin Solid Films, Volume 572, 1 December 2014
  • H. Fager, G. Greczynski, J. Jensen, J. Lu, L. Hultman, Growth and properties of amorphous Ti–B–Si–N thin films deposited by hybrid HIPIMS/DC-magnetron co-sputtering from TiB2 and Si targets, Surface and Coatings Technology, Volume 259, Part C, 25 November 2014
  • Jong-Rak Lee, Tai-Joo Chung, Seung-Ho Yang, Gil-Su Hong, Kyung-Sik Oh, Prevention of tapering in the tube-shaped sputtering target via initial heat treatment under external pressure, Ceramics International, Available online 18 November 2014
  • Sumit Vyas, Rohit Tiwary, Kumar Shubham, P. Chakrabarti, Study the Target effect on the Structural, Surface and Optical properties of TiO2 Thin Film Fabricated by RF Sputtering Method, Superlattices and Microstructures, Available online 15 November 2014
  • F. Ferreira, R. Serra, J.C. Oliveira, A. Cavaleiro, Effect of peak target power on the properties of Cr thin films sputtered by HiPIMS in deep oscillation magnetron sputtering (DOMS) mode, Surface and Coatings Technology, Volume 258, 15 November 2014
  • Yeon Hwa Jo, Jin Woo Jang, Yong Soo Cho, Spatial and RF power dependence of the structural and electrical characteristics of copper zinc tin selenide thin films prepared by single elementary target sputtering, Materials Chemistry and Physics, Volume 148, Issues 1–2, 14 November 2014