Understanding the Intricacies of Optical Thin Film Coating

Summary: The production of optical thin films is a complex, yet necessary one.

Written by: Denton Vacuum, LLC

Optics are utilized in a vast array of fields including: scientific, biomedical, industrial, and more. If you’re in the process of purchasing optical components, it’s essential that you have some familiarity with the characteristics, limitations, and benefits of the major optical coating systems.

Understanding Optical Thin Film Coating

First off, what exactly is a thin film coating? To be frank, an optical thin film modifies the reflective and transmittance properties of a material. There are numerous types of optical coating categories that include: high reflection, partial reflection, antireflection, and polarization. Each of these coatings provides different properties to the thin film itself. It’s up to the technician and utilization of the optical coating to determine which process to use.

Equipment and Coating Process

Sputtering systems that allow for the optical coating process to occur need to be able to produce flexible, reflective, and quality thin films. Remember, the process is delicate and requires the handler to be highly considerate of all the characteristics and properties of the film itself.

Optical coatings are essentially constructed out of thin layers of dielectrics or a somewhat thick later of a metal. The vacuum metalizing process that occurs within the sputtering system breaks down the metal and transforms it into a thin film that can be placed on top of the material. Throughout this process, there are numerous complex processes that occur to determine the specificities of the optical thin film produced. Due to today’s advanced technological modalities, optical thin films can be produced faster and of a better quality than ever before.