Thin Film Applications: Precious Metals

Thin film applications are a versatile means of improving the qualities of a base metal component. The application of precious metals (PMs) as the top or even middle layer is guaranteed to enhance the ability of the part or product to perform to the desired capabilities. It is all about recognizing the importance of PMs to provide the characteristics lacking in the substrate.

Common PM

PMs come in a variety of types. Some are well known in and out of industrial and fabrication circles. Most individuals recognize and understand that both gold and silver are PMs. They may also be aware of the PM classification of platinum. Fewer people will recognize the PM status of the following three:

  • Iridium
  • Palladium
  • Ruthenium

These and other precious metals find use in a variety of specialized applications.

Applications of PMs

Industrial applications of PMs are extensive in certain fields. They are particularly prominent in microelectronics and semiconductor manufacturing areas. PMs are found in use in

  • CD-R, DVD, And BD
  • Crystal Oscillators
  • Die-Bonding
  • Enhanced Glass (Low-E Glass) for Building Materials
  • Photovoltaics
  • Semiconductors
  • Solar Cells
  • Optical Discs
  • Sensors
  • Touch Panels

Precious metals may be applied in large area coatings or as wear resistant coatings. Yet, none of the applications can detract from the usual decorative appearance resulting from such applications. In fact, many functional products and their components benefit from the qualities derived from providing a purely decorative coating of a PM.

Why Choose PMs?

The choice of PMs resided in their ability to infuse their properties into the base substrate they shield with a thin film of protective coating. While the exact properties or qualities resulting from the coating may differ due to the specific choice of PM, in general, PM coatings provide the substrate with several abilities including:

  • A barrier against the oxidation process
  • The ability to retain good to excellent electrical conductivity
  • To act as a medium for soldering
  • To perform a role as an electrical contact layer
  • To connect diverse layers – top and bottom or middle and bottom/top
  • Act as a base for wire bonding

Precious Metals and Thin Film Coating

The classification of metals is extensive. It includes certain types that fall into the base or rare category. Some are precious. These fall into this category because of their inherent economic worth or rarity of existence. While many prove to be expensive to use, certain industries require them to improve their components. As a result, specific and often specialized manufactories call upon fabricators to employ in their film coatings, precious metals to achieve the best desirable results possible.

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