Sputtering is a nonthermal vaporization process in which the surface atoms are physically ejected from a surface by momentum transfer from an energetic bombarding species of atomic/molecular size. It uses a glow discharge or an ion beam to generate a flux of ions incident on the target surface. This article provides an overview of the advantages and limitations of sputter deposition. It focuses on the most common sputtering techniques, namely, diode sputtering, radio-frequency sputtering, triode sputtering, magnetron sputtering, and unbalanced magnetron sputtering. The article discusses the fundamentals of plasma formation and the interactions on the target surface. A comparison of reactive and nonreactive sputtering is also provided. The article concludes with a discussion on the several methods of process control and the applications of sputtered films.
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