Investigation of Innovative Process Control Technologies for Manufacturing of High Precision Optical Film Stacks in Drum-Sputter Coaters

Academic Institution: University of the West of Scotland

Academic Supervisor: Dr Shigeng Song

Industry Partner: Intellemetrics Global Ltd / Shanghai Jason Vacuum Co Ltd

PhD Student: TBC

Start Date: January - March 2020


High precision optical coatings are a fundamental enabling technology in an increasing number of applications, including aerospace, automotive, telecoms, mobile, medical, food and drink, and many more. The global market for optical coatings is estimated to be around $20Bn with growth above 10%.

The challenges in manufacturing of high precision optical coatings are control of the material properties and control of the layer thicknesses. Drum-sputter coating has emerged as a major manufacturing technique for these film-stacks due to its inherent high throughput (lower costs), material quality (high performance products), and high material utilisation factors (less waste, greener).

However, a number of important manufacturing issues need to be overcome to fully utilise the benefits of this technology. This project aims to address those issues and provide innovative solutions to be utilised directly by the industrial partners.

This project brings together the University of the West of Scotland`s Institute of Thin Films, Sensors & Imaging (ITFSI), a centre of excellence in thin film research; Intellemetrics Global Ltd, a Scottish-based designer and manufacturer of optical monitoring solutions for precision optical coatings; and Shanghai Jason Vacuum (SJV), a leading drum-sputter chamber manufacturer.

The main outcomes from this project will be:

  1. Commissioning of a >£1M equipment investment into ITFSI with significant future R&D potential.

  2. Innovative solutions to the issues holding back drum-sputter coating for next generation high precision optical filters.

  3. Development of a novel broad-band optical monitor capability and expertise.

  4. Development of novel process measurement and control algorithms specific to drum-sputter coaters.

Significant wealth and job creation in Scotland through the development of new optical monitoring technologies for drum-sputter coaters that the Scottish-based industrial partner will bring to market, initially via the Chinese-based partner.