Formation of metal nanoparticles by short-distance sputter deposition in a reactive ion etching chamber

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A new method is reported to form metal nanoparticles by sputter deposition inside a reactive ion etching chamber with a very short target-substrate distance. The distribution and morphology of nanoparticles are found to be affected by the distance, the ion concentration, and the sputtering time. Densely distributed nanoparticles of various compositions were fabricated on the substrates that were kept at a distance of 130 μm or smaller from the target. When the distance was increased to 510 μm, island structures were formed, indicating the tendency to form continuous thin film with longer distance. The observed trend for nanoparticle formation is opposite to the previously reported mechanism for the formation of nanoparticles by sputtering. A new mechanism based on the seeding effect of the substrate is proposed to interpret the experimental results. © 2009 American Institute of Physics.

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Journal of Applied Physics