Longer lifetime ionizer

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Longer lifetime ionizer for the 04-303 and 06-350 ion source.









As many of you know, RBD Instruments’ 04-303 and 06-350 ionizer rebuilds last for an average of 1100 hours of run time. Depending on how much sputtering you do, that can translate into anywhere from 2 months to 3 years between ionizer replacements. But wouldn’t it be nice if they could last longer, such as 2000 hours or more?

Introducing the new long life 04-303 and long life 06-350 ionizer! There are two failure mechanisms related to the ionizers that we have addressed with our new and improved rebuild process. First, as part of the normal operation of the filament, tungsten slowly evaporates onto the base of the ionizer. That coating can cause leakage current between the grid and extractor that shows up as pressure on the 11-065 controller even when no gas is being fed into the source. That ghost pressure current typically shows up towards the end of the filament lifetime cycle. We have addressed this problem by cutting a groove into the ceramic base at the location where the tungsten deposit occurs. That groove will prevent the leakage current from happening when the deposition occurs.

The second improvement that we have implemented is a special low temperature filament wire. Besides running much cooler, the wire evaporation rate is greatly reduced so the deposition rate is also reduced proportionally. Just as with our normal ionizer rebuilds, the filament will hold its shape for the entire filament lifetime, resulting in a very stable and repeatable ion current.

Another benefit of our low temperature wire is that it takes much less filament current to get the same emission current as compared to the normal tungsten wire. As a result, the ion gun controller will also run 20% cooler and operate trouble free longer.

So how long with our new ionizer last? We are projecting between 2000 and 2500 hours but need more data to be able to provide an accurate answer. That is where you can help us. We will be offering a few of our new long-life ionizers at a reduced price and in return we ask that you keep a log of how many hours you get before the ionizer burns out. As that data comes in we will be able to provide an accurate average lifetime.

A longer lifetime ionizer  pays for itself by reducing how often you need to vent your chamber for maintenance.

For more information or to place an order, please contact us at sales@rbdinstruments.com or call us at 541 550 5016.




Ion source filament assembly for PHI 04-303 and 06-350

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RBD Instruments’ proprietary technique for rebuilding the PHI 04-303 ion gun and 06-350 ion source filament assembly results in more stable sputter rates and longer filament lifetimes than other ionizers. The pictures below are actual 04-303 ion source filament assemblies which show the visible light emitting from the filaments. Note that the 3 post RBD ionizers have a much larger and more uniform hot spot than the 5 post PHI filament. In terms of performance, a more uniform hot spot results in a more uniform beam shape. In addition, even with the additional two unnecessary posts, the PHI filaments will still slightly warp out of position over time. That in turn changes the sputter rate of the ion gun, which can result in inaccurate depth profile data unless you re-calibrate your sputter rate frequently.

In short, the RBD ion source filament assemblies outperform the PHI filaments, last longer, and the cost 75% less than a new ionizer. So the next time your 04-303 or 06-350 ion gun needs a new ion source filament assembly, send it to RBD for a rebuild!  You will save $$ and get the benefits of a longer lifetime ion source filament assembly and more stable sputter rates.

RBD carries exchange ion source filament assemblies so we can send you a rebuilt one and then you return your old one to us after you install the rebuilt ion source filament assembly.

Contact us for more information at RBDinstruments dot com

Duoplasmatron ion source rebuild procedure

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This procedure will help you to rebuild your PHI 06-660 Duoplasmatron ion source. On older ion columns the system needs to be vented before beginning this procedure. On newer ion columns there is a needle valve which allows the source to be removed and rebuilt with out venting the system.  This example is the older style ion column.

For best results, read this procedure before watching the video – Duoplasmatron ion source rebuild procedure

  1. After venting the system, remove the gas manifold at the source.  Protect the knife-edge with aluminum foil.
  2. Disconnect the differential pumping line.  Protect the knife-edge with aluminum foil.
  3. Support the differential pumping port with some solid object. Use aluminum foil to protect the knife-edge from becoming damaged.  The reason that this needs to be supported is so that when the alignment collars are removed from the column the bellows plate will not be supporting the total weight of the ion gun.  If this happens, the bellows plate may develop a vacuum leak.
  4. Remove the alignment collars by first removing the screws which hold the collar to the ion gun column. Be very careful when pulling the halves of the collar away from the COND and OBJ high voltage feedthrus.
  5. Remove the eight  ½” hex nuts, which fasten the source to the column. Be careful to support the source when you remove the last nut.
  6. Carefully remove the source from the column.
  7. Prepare a work area and cover it with clean aluminum foil.   Place the source on the work area and remove the outer shield.  Remove the top heat sink.
  8. Remove the second heat sink (3 screws) and the 6 screws, which fasten the cathode ceramic to the source housing.
  9. Remove the cathode ceramic by lifting it straight up.  Tip: make a lip on the edge of the aluminum foil to capture the red sapphire beams which will fall out when the cathode ceramic is removed. These sapphire beads insulate the cathode from the intermediate electrode.  (You can clean the nickel off of these beads with a small amount of diluted nitric acid and re-use them if you have access to a chemistry lab).

From This point on use gloves and clean tools.

  1. Turn the source over and remove the 4 screws, which hold the anode to the anode support housing.  Use pliers to lift the anode out.
  2. Remove the 4 screws  (also the washers and ceramics) that hold the anode support to the base of the source. Use a needle nosed pliers to lift the screws and washers out.
  3. Remove the ceramic at the base of the source.  Use a long needle nosed pliers, being very careful not to drop the ceramic.
  4. Remove the 4 screws, which hold the intermediate electrode to the base of the source and lift out the intermediate electrode.
  5. Install the new intermediate electrode to the base of the source.   Make sure it is clean.  If uncertain about the cleanness of the parts, ultra-sonically clean them in methanol and then isopropanol followed by drying.
  6. Replace the ceramic at the base of the source.
  7. Set the anode support on top of the ceramic. The spring tab should line up with the electrical feedthru.
  8. Set the ceramics back into the anode support.  Using pliers, place the washers and screws inside of the ceramics. Tighten the screws to attach the anode support to the base of the source.
  9. Replace the anode aperture (in the center of the anode), but punching out the old one and tapping the new one in place.  The spiral-grooved side should face down (towards the anode support).
  10. Replace the anode; tighten the four screws, which hold it to the anode support.
  11. Turn the source over and set it on top of the tabletop (so that is sits flat).
  12. Remove the old cathode from the cathode ceramic by pulling it and turning it counter clock-wise.  There is a screw in the base that should loosen up. If not, use a long Allen wrench to un-screw it.
  13. Install the new cathode to the cathode ceramic, using a new screw to hold it in place.
  14. Place a new gasket 1.33” copper gasket on the knife-edge.   Slide the cathode past the copper gasket, placing the red sapphire beads into the slots as you lower the cathode.   If you are having problems doing this you can drop the beads in a small amount of methanol. The capillary action will hold the beads in place while to lower the cathode.
  15. Tighten the cathode screws in a circular manner until the cathode is sealed.
  16. Replace the heat sinks and cover.
  17. Reverse the removal steps to place the source back on the ion gun column.    Very Important: Remember to place the alignment collar ring on the source before you replace the source on the column.



 Additional notes:

The system MUST be baked out after working on a DP Source. The anode and intermediate are sensitive to contamination and water vapor. If not thoroughly baked out, flakes or whiskers will develop in a short period of time and the source will short out.  The gas needs to be pure and there must not be any leaks in the gas line. If air mixes with the gas the source will short out after a few hours of operation. Here is a procedure on how to pump out the gas line to make sure that the gas used for the DP is pure or if you have replaced the gas bottle:

DP gas line pump out procedure

This procedure explains how to pump the air out of the gas line after replacing the gas bottle.  For this procedure, the main chamber is under vacuum.  If the system is up to air then you can just pump the gas line down with the rest of the chamber by first opening the piezo valve on the gas line.

  1. Make sure that the 20-530 and 20-520 are OFF and that the valve select on the 20-530 is set to OFF.
  2. Remove the side panel on the vacuum console to gain access to the gas bottle manifold.
  3. Close the bottle and use a large crescent wrench to unscrew the gas line from the bottle.  Turn the large nut CCW to remove. Remove the gas bottle from the gas manifold.
  4. Make sure that the new gas bottle is tightly closed (CW).
  5. Put the new gas bottle in and attach the line. (Inspect the o-ring on the end of the gas line first to make sure it looks good). Firmly tighten the gas line by using a large crescent wrench to turn the nut CW.
  6. Keep the new gas  bottle closed at this time!
  7. Make sure that the turbo pump is on and up to full speed.
  8. Pump out the intro and wait until you get 5 bars.
  9. Differentially pump on the ion gun. V4 should open.
  10. Run an extension cord from the wall to the 20-530 so that it can be powered when the ion gauge is OFF.
  11. Turn the card rack power off and exit Auger scan and Auger Map.
  12. Turn the DIGIII or DIGIV ion gauge OFF
  13. Turn the Boostivac ion pump control OFF
  14. Turn on the 20-530 and make sure the ARC current switch is OFF. Turn the gas ON, set it to 10.
  15. Make sure that V3 is open.  If not, open it manually.
  16. Open V1 manually.
  17. Wait until the 20-530 pressure pumps down to zero.  This will take up to an hour or more.  If it does not drop to zero you have a leak in the gas line.
  18. Once the 20-530 pressure indicates zero, manually close V1 and V3.
  19. Turn on the ion pump control – set it to start and then run.  It should start right back up.
  20. Turn on the DIGIII or DIGIV.  The vacuum should be in the low 10-8 range and rapidly dropping into the 10-9 range.  It will take a day or so to completely recover.
  21. Allow the turbo pump to pump on the line (V4 open) overnight.
  22. The next day,  turn the pressure OFF on the 20-530 and turn the 20-530 OFF.
  23. Plug the 20-530 back into the system.
  24. With the 20-530 OFF and the gas valve set to OFF, open the gas bottle by turning the valve CCW.  Open it slowly at first and be prepared to close it quickly if the system pressure rises.   Hopefully, the valve should hold and you will not see any pressure rise. Open the valve fully CCW.

Gas bottle installation and pump down of gas line is now complete.

RBD Instruments provides parts and a complete rebuild service for PHI duoplasmatron ion sources.

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