“Thin” is a relative term but when speaking about films ranging in thickness from fractions of a nanometer to several micrometers, it’s relatively the only term to use. For example, the metal applied to the back of a piece of glass that transforms the glass into a mirror is a thin-film. Thin-film monitoring tools, then, must handle minute levels of matter. Consequently, white light, UV light, lasers and electron beams are used to investigate thin-films and substrates on an atomic level.
Thin-film monitoring tools are functional during as well as after deposition, and allow evaluation of thickness and composition given the refraction results of the white light, UV light, lasers and electron beams signaled at the thin-film. Thin-film monitoring tools are even able to deliver real-time data relative to temperature, deposition rate, film thickness, stress curvature, bow, reflectivity, and surface roughness for certain compounds, although electronic and optoelectronic thin-films require more detailed software analysis. The atomic information available thanks to thin-film monitoring tools are used by scientists at universities and national labs alike. Having such information real-time can help to evaluate results during deposition and help to reduce an error ridden deposition, saving scientists their limited money and time.
k-Space Associates, Inc., located in Dexter, near Ann Arbor, is a leading supplier of advanced metrology instrumentation and software for the surface science and thin-film technology industries.