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.

04-303 or 06-350 Ionizer replacement procedure video

The procedure to replace the ionizer on a 04-303 or 06-350  ion gun is one of those things that once you see it done, you know how to do it. You can expect to replace your ionizer anywhere from once every few years to once every few months, depending on how much sputtering you do. For most people it will be about once every 6 months.

It takes about 10 minutes to replace the ionizer once the system has been vented, and this video takes you through the process from start to finish:

TIP: Be careful not to drop the flat head ionizer retainer screws into the source as you remove or install the ionizer assembly. If you do, they usually fall down to the inside of the ion gun wall and you can get them out using a screw driver or wire with some tape on the end of it (clean the screw afterwards). If you can’t see them, you will need to pull the source off and find them for sure as there is a slight chance that they can fall into the differential pumping port and eventually work their way down to the turbo pump.   Turbo pumps blades that are spinning at 60,0000 RPMs or more do not like to get hit with small stainless steel screws.

RBD Instruments provides a rebuilding service for the 04-303 and 06-360 ionizers as well as an Argon bottle gas refill service. Our filaments typically last for 1100 hours under normal operating conditions.

In addition to the 04-303 ionizers, we also provide filaments for the 04-300, 04-191/2 and 04-161/2 ion guns.

For more information, please visit the Ion Gun Filaments and Grids section of our website.


04303 high voltage feedthrough

Filament – Pins 1 and 2
Grid – Pin 5
Extractor – Pin 4