04-303 Differential Aperture Improvement

The differential aperture in the PHI 04-303 5kV ion source provides two functions:

  • It helps to shape the ion beam.
  • It restricts the gas in the ionizer, which is at a higher pressure, from entering the vacuum chamber.

The differential aperture is made from stainless steel and after years of normal use the aperture becomes sputtered away, resulting in a misshaped ion beam and higher system pressure.

RBD has designed an insert aperture that is made out of tungsten and which will last for many years. 

The pictures below show a worn-out aperture and our new insert aperture.

Old worn out 04-303 aperture
New 04-303 aperture

Our 04-303 ion source rebuild service now includes this aperture as part of our rebuilding procedure.

So, when your 04-303 needs to be serviced, please contact us for more information about how our rebuild service improves the shape of the ion beam, reduces the pressure in the system for years to come, and saves you money.

Differential aperture for 04-303 ion source
04-303 ion source

Longer lifetime ionizer

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.

Ion source filament assembly for PHI 04-303, 06-350 and FIG 5 ion sources

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.