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Physical Vapor Deposition for Medical Devices

Physical vapor deposition (PVD) has become widely used to deposit wear-resistant and bio-compatible thin film coatings on various types of medical devices, including medical pressure sensors, orthopedic implants, pacemakers, stents, surgical instruments, orthodontic appliances and dental instruments. Thin film deposition and PVD technology provides value in it's materials engineering capability. Thin films of materials can be used to enhance and/or modify the surface properties of a device without changing the underlying material properties and biomechanical functionality. Magnetron sputtering is well suited to materials engineering and the Kurt Lesker Company produces an extensive range of thin film deposition systems suited to various device applications. With emerging technologies such as HIPIMS , reactive sputtering and Inverted Cylindrical Magnetron sputtering we are in an ideal position to personalize a tool for your unique and demanding application.

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Empirical Determination of Z-Factor

Unfortunately, Z Factor and Shear Modulus are not readily available for many materials. In this case, the Z-Factor can also be determined empirically using the following method:

  • Deposit material until Crystal Life is near 50%, or near the end of life, whichever is sooner.
  • Place a new substrate adjacent to the used quartz sensor.
  • Set QCM Density to the calibrated value; Tooling to 100%
  • Zero thickness
  • Deposit approximately 1000 to 5000 A of material on the substrate.
  • Use a profilometer or interferometer to measure the actual substrate film thickness.
  • Adjust the Z Factor of the instrument until the correct thickness reading is shown.

Another alternative is to change crystals frequently and ignore the error. The graph below shows the % Error in Rate/Thickness from using the wrong Z Factor. For a crystal with 90% life, the error is negligible for even large errors in the programmed versus actual Z Factor.