The modern world is enabled by incredible, complex manufacturing processes. Remarkable materials with fantastic properties have allowed us to create computers, advanced optics, etc. A common theme in many of these advanced materials is their usage of "thin films". Thin film materials have enabled an incredible array of technological advances, including magnetic recording media, LEDs, the aforementioned optical coatings, and more.
Sputter deposition is one way of fabricating these thin film materials. Because I have future plans for projects which will require themDIY HDD platters, optics, and semiconductor fabrication make the list, the first step is to be able to reliably synthesize these thin-films at home.
This project is about my attempt to manufacture a DC sputtering magnetron, one of the many possible instruments used for sputter deposition. The device uses strong electric and magnetic fields to confine a plasma near a target surface. The ions in the plasma bombard the target, which causes it to emit some of its constituent particles. Because most of these particles will not themselves be ionized, they won't be trapped by the surrounding electromagnetic field and are free to fly off into the chamber. These particles can then strike the object you wish to coat in the material, slowly accruing a thin film.