Influence of target surface degradation on the properties of r.f. magnetron-sputtered calcium phosphate coatings

A Boyd, M Akay, BJ Meenan

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61 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper reports a detailed study of how repeated r.f. magnetron sputtering from a hydroxyapatite (HA) powder target affects the nature and reproducibility of a sequential series of thin-film coatings deposited onto Ti6Al4V substrates. An evaluation of the effective lifespan of the HA sputter targets and the reproducibility of the calcium phosphate (CaP) coatings produced from them has been made from Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, XPS and, as appropriate, atomic force microscopy and SEM/energy dispersive x-ray analyses. The annulus region of the target surface, from which sputtering under r.f. magnetron conditions normally occurs, showed severe surface degradation after only one deposition run, as indicated by significant PO43- and OH- depletion. This deterioration continued after each subsequent deposition cycle but to a much lesser extent than that observed in the initial sputtering period. The layers produced from all of the sputter runs contained the expected Ca2+ and PO43- species characteristic of a CaP system but were OH- deficient in the as-deposited state. However, the chemical and morphological properties of the coatings did not change significantly until after the third consecutive sputter cycle. Hence, these data indicate that, even though a significant level of degradation of the HA target occurs at the outset of the sputtering procedure, the general plasma conditions employed here have a dominant influence on the coating properties until a critical degradation condition is met. As such, the compacted HA powder targets of interest can have a life-cycle greater than single usage without detriment to the chemistry and morphology of the coatings produced from them. Copyright (C) 2003 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-198
JournalSurface and Interface Analysis
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Feb 2003


  • calcium phosphate thin films
  • r.f. magnetron sputtering
  • sputter target lifespan
  • surface analysis


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