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Comparative Study of Barium Fluoride Thin Films Produced by Ion-Beam Sputtering and Thermal Evaporation

C Cole, R Hunneman, W S Carter

IOP Conference on Applied Optics and Optoelectronics, York, UK (1994)


Coatings and filters for spaceflight far-infrared components require a robust, non-absorptive low-index thin film material to contrast with the typically higher refractive index infrared materials. Barium fluoride is one such material for the 10 to 20┬Ám wavelength infrared region, however its optical and mechanical properties vary depending on the process used to deposit it in thin film form. Thin films of dielectric produced by thermal evaporation are well documented as having a lower packing density and refractive index than bulk material. The porous and columnar micro structure of these films causes possible deterioration of their performance in varied environmental conditions, primarily because of the moisture absorption. Dielectric thin films produced by the more novel technique of ion-beam sputtering are denser with no columnar micro structure and have a packing density and refractive index similar to the bulk material.

A comparative study of Barium Fluoride (BaF2) thin films made by conventional thermal evaporation and ion-beam sputtering is reported. Films of similar thicknesses are deposited on Cadmium Telluride and Germanium substrates. The optical and mechanical properties of these films are then examined.

The refractive index n of the films is obtained from applying the modified Manifacier's envelope method to the spectral measurements made on a Perkin Elmer 580 spectrophotometer. An estimate is also made of the value of the extinction coefficient k in the infrared wavelength transparent region of the thin film.

In order to study the mechanical properties of the BaF2 films, and evaluate their usefulness in spaceflight infrared filters and coatings, the thin film samples are subjected to MIL-F-48616 environmental tests. Comparisons are made of their performance under these tests.