In this work the roughness and topography evolution of optical materials sputtered with low energy ion beam (≤1 keV) has been investigated. These materials (bulk or thin layer) are used in the manufacturing of mirrors for scientific (ground or space) instruments or for other optical applications.
In the first part of the work, the roughness evolution of optical surfaces under sputtering has been investigated in the frame of the industrial process known as Ion Beam Figuring. This technique consists in removing shape errors on optical surfaces with a low energy ion beam (≤1 keV). One disadvantage of this process is a potential increase of roughness for surfaces under treatment. The roughness evolution of some materials relevant to the optical industry has been accurately characterized as function of etching depth down to 5 µm. These sputtering experiments have been carried out at normal incidence, mainly with argon ions (but also in a lesser extent with krypton and xenon ions), ion current density of ~1 mA/cm2 and ion beam energy ranging from 200 eV to 1000 eV. The roughness evolution under sputtering is low for materials with amorphous (glass, electroless nickel), monocrystalline (silicon) or even polycrystalline structure (CVD silicon carbide, PVD gold or nickel film), whereas it is considerably more important for some other metallic materials such as electroplated nickel and aluminium.
This work has shown small differences in the roughness evolution of CVD silicon carbide as function of the ion beam energy. The roughness increase is faster at low ion energy (<500 eV) than at higher ion energy (650-1000 eV). The grain structure of this material is less revealed at higher energy, which is supposed to be due to a larger amorphization of the sputtered layer in this case. The influence of the ion mass on CVD silicon carbide and gold films on nickel substrates has been also illustrated.
Our measurements have been also compared to scaling laws. Various growth and roughness exponents have been found, sometimes rather different from those foreseen by the KPZ equation.
In the second part, we focus on periodically modulated structures (ripples) which developed on many solids when sputtered by an off-normal ion bombardment. In this work, we first observed these ripples on gold films deposited on electroplated nickel (materials used as reflective surfaces for X-ray space telescope) sputtered at grazing incidence. We studied the influence of sputtering parameters (ion beam incidence angle, energy and flux) on the characteristics of ripples induced on gold and silver thin film (~0.2 µm). Ion-induced ripples have also been observed on CdS, an interesting semiconductor crystal for optical applications.
The ripples orientation and dimensions (spatial wavelengths from 0.13 µm to 0.29 µm) have been confronted to the Bradley-Harper (B-H) linear model. We used the SRIM software to evaluate the deposited energy and the surface tension coefficient distributions. Our results can be in great part explained by the current theories (Bradley-Harper, Makeev) on morphology of ion-sputtered surfaces. These results can be summarized hereunder:
• Clear development of ripples for angle of incidence equal or higher than 60° on gold film and 70° on silver film.
• In this work the ripples wave vector is always perpendicular to the ion beam direction for all angles, whereas the change in ripple orientation beyond a critical angle is usually reported in literature. This is a due to the different shape of the energy distribution function for our sputtering conditions.
• Different regimes for roughness and topography evolution (grains, ripples) have been observed in function of the angle of incidence. 3 different areas can be distinguished, as predicted by Makeev non-linear model.
• The diminution of ripple wavelength with ion energy shows that thermal diffusion is the main relaxation mechanism.