Sputtering Systems and their Applications in Medical Science

Specially treated medical devices are required for many common implant operations. These coatings make the process more efficient, and keep patients safe.

Written by: Denton Vacuum, LLC

When most people think of a pace maker or a stint, they don’t really think about what goes into making these devices. Medical technology relies on sputtering systems to create devices that are non-abrasive, and cause the least amount of discomfort for the patient. Without this important scientific process, we wouldn’t have implantable devices, medical imaging, and color coding.

Sputtering Explained

UHV sputter depositionstands for “Ultra High Vacuum,” and the process is used to remove moisture and gases from an object. This is done at a very low pressure, allowing the gaseous molecules to bounce off of one another, and the walls of the chamber, before finally settling on the substrate. Air is pumped at high speeds to create a vacuum chamber, and the “baking” process can be arduous and time consuming.

Outgassing is also a problem for these systems, but there are ways to get around this. For one, materials that have low vapor pressures (like glass) can cut down on outgassing. Surface outgassing can be a bigger concern, but it is also easy to fix. This occurs when the chamber is too large, forcing the molecules to interact prematurely and muddling the results. The solution is a smaller chamber, which may be more viable for some applications than others.

Medical Devices

Plasma-enhanced vapor deposition is used heavily in the fields of microscopy and x-ray imaging, mostly to detect chemicals at a molecular level. It’s not likely to help a patient in the office, but lab workers would use technology treated this way extensively.