High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HIPIMS) is a relatively newly developed technique; the mechanism involves creation of dense plasma in front of the sputtering target to produce a large fraction of ions of the sputtered material. The plasma conditions in HIPIMS can be used for growth of films using a bombardment of ions of the target material itself, which often results in dense, droplet free films. Overall, HIPIMS technique achieves significantly highest density (>35%) compared to traditional magnetron sputtering technique.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, used traditional DC magnetron sputtering for their original particle accelerator coatings, which did go well but involved some setbacks, such as: the coated thin film must have uniform thickness and surface quality. The slightest imperfection can disrupt cavity’s superconducting character, superheating and dumping all the extra heat to the environment. Even if the right thickness is achieved, considerable spike points are formed, which can provide magnetic field pinning sites that can disrupt the superconducting character.
So, High power impulse magnetron sputtering (HIPIMS) technique can be used to fully coat RF cavities with niobium to achieve thin films with better density and relatively low friction. The inner surface of these coated cavities, in turn, must be coated with multilayer thin films which encompass some superconducting layers, alternating with insulating layers to increase the optimal accelerating field of the cavities. Overall, HIPIMS technique is expected to improve performance of RF cavities and increase the accelerating field of niobium cavities, hence can become a substitute technology for DC magnetron in future.
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