X-ray optical components are required to perform at a new level of material characterization at the nanometer scale and are critically needed for the advancement of emerging nanotechnology and other cutting-edge applications. Development of reflective and transmissive X-ray optics, able to reduce the spot size down to a diameter of few nm, is a significant achievement that may spur new frontiers in nanotechnology, metamaterials, biology, and medical science, maintaining the USA’s position as a global leader in cutting-edge scientific research and development. However, the manufacturing of multilayer Laue components for X-ray optics by physical vapor deposition (PVD) requires unprecedented precision and accuracy, presenting a significant process control challenge.

Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS) is a promising method for accurately determining the deposition rate and composition of the deposited materials. No AAS system currently provides the accuracy, portability, and ease-of-use for adoption in the manufacturing of X-ray optics. Multiple other new-generation thin-film technologies require an urgent solution to the same process control challenge.

AccuStrata is creating a novel AAS prototype for deposition rate and chemical composition control of thin films during deposition. The system is installable on a broad variety of PVD systems for manufacturing of X-ray optics and other thin film applications, to provide accurate and reliable deposition rate and film composition measurements for dynamic feedback control. The AAS system comprises two major parts – a reconfigurable hardware module located outside the PVD chamber with hallow cathode excitation sources, and a portable fiber-optic-based distributed monitoring frame installed in the area surrounding the deposited substrate inside the deposition chamber.

The deposition area is monitored by several beams simultaneously to derive information about the atomic distribution over the entire substrate area for precise deposition rate monitoring. The prefabricated and optically-aligned frame structure, installed inside the deposition chamber, eliminates errors associated with window deposition, changes in chamber pressure, and other process factors. The unique shielding design will minimize contamination of the optics resulting in very low long-term drift.

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