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We have designed and built ion beam etch equipment for clients worldwide. Ion beam etching is used mainly in R&D and device manufacturing of data storage and optical components.
Ion beam etching (IBE) uses an energetic, broad beam collimated and highly directional ion source to physically mill material from a substrate mounted on a rotating fixture with adjustable tilt angle. The ion sources used are gridded ion sources of the Kaufman type and are typically neutralized with an independent electron source. Large and small ion sources are available and capable of uniform etching over areas as large as 9 inches in diameter. The highly collimated, directional ion flux allows for anisotropic etching of any material. The ability to modify the angle of the substrate allows the creation of processes that result in tailored sidewall profiles with minimal sputtered redeposition on overlying masks.
Reactive ion beam etching (RIBE) is identical to IBE, except that reactive ions are incorporated in whole or in part in the etching ion beam. In another variant known as chemically assisted ion beam etching (CAIBE), reactive species are introduced into the process independent of the ion beam. For certain materials, systems RIBE and CAIBE offer additional control of etch anisotropy, sputter redeposition, and etch rate over IBE.