Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory masthead A-Z Index Berkeley Lab masthead U.S. Department of Energy logo Phone Book Jobs Search
Tech Transfer
Licensing Interest Form Receive Customized Tech Alerts

Improvements to High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering



  • Semiconductors, superconductors
  • Flat panel displays for computers, cell phones, PDAs
  • Tools and automotive parts
  • Medical implants
  • Solar energy devices


  • Improves the quality of films
  • Produces coatings more efficiently
  • Increases film density, conductivity, durability, and indices of refraction
  • Enables control of film characteristics: uniformity, hardness, elasticity, and coefficient of friction
  • Enables control over deposition temperature
  • May be used to upgrade current magnetron systems


Since the advent of high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HIPIMS) approximately 10 years ago, few improvements have been made to the technology. Now, André Anders of Berkeley Lab has developed an apparatus and method of high power impulse magnetron sputtering that together enable more efficient production of films with higher density and control of texture.

This high density, which approaches the theoretical limit of bulk density, is achieved by increasing the ion flux, i.e., the number of ions that land on a given area of substrate per unit of time. The higher density translates into coatings with increased durability, conductivity, and indices of refraction (for optical films). For some film materials, the orientation of the crystalline grains of the film can be influenced in a controlled manner. This enables adjustments to the film’s hardness, elasticity, and coefficient of friction.

The apparatus can also produce films of greater uniformity by decreasing divergence and applying the ion flow in a sweeping motion, as with a paint brush. In addition, this technology allows better control over the temperature of deposition so that low temperatures can be used for heat intolerant substrates, such as plastics, and high temperatures for heat tolerant substrates, such as metals. In the case of reactive depositions, in which the desired film consists of a compound formed by particles of target and the surrounding process gas, this invention can dramatically increase the reactivity of the gas in order to control the efficiency and temperature of the deposition.


  • Published PCT Patent Application WO2009/131737 available at Available for licensing or collaborative research.

To learn more about licensing a technology from LBNL see


Anders A., J. Andersson, A. Ehiasarian, “High power impulse magnetron sputtering: Current voltage-time characteristics indicate the onset of sustained self sputtering,” Journal of Applied Physics. 102:113303(2007).

Anders A., Cathodic Arcs: From Fractal Spots to Energetic Condensation (Springer Series on Atomic, Optical, and Plasma Physics) New York: Springer; 2008. Contains chapters relevant to energetic deposition involving plasma, metallization, and compound formation.



See More Materials Technologies