20 Jun 2008
It's all change in the thin-film coating market this week as Satisloh gets snapped up by Essilor and Evatec makes some impressive product announcements.
Evatec unveiled two new optical thin-film deposition products at this week's Optatec trade fair in Frankfurt, Germany. The complementary sputter and plasma solutions are designed to meet the needs of today's emerging applications that demand high-quality optical coatings.
“This is the first mass-production tool for sputtering on the market.”
"There is no single coating technology that fits every application," Evatec's marketing manager Allan Jaunzens told optics.org. "You need to tailor your technologies to the application. We are building our technology portfolio and want to show the market that we can offer a solution for every application."
The first new product is a sputtering solution that has already been tested by Oerlikon Optics in a mass-production environment. Sputtering is an established technology for making high-quality thin-film coatings but its downfall has been its lack of consistency.
"We see this as the first mass-production tool for sputtering available on the market," said Jaunzens. "The throughput of our MSP system is very high and you can make high-quality filters in large quantities time after time. If you are producing medical or military devices for example it is important to have stable optical performance and very high-end filters."
Jaunzens says that the key to these claims is the use of both plasma and optical monitoring in situ. "This allows you to monitor the substrate directly during the deposition," he explained. "You can control the geometry of the plasma very carefully, which in turn controls the oxide chemistry in the films. Optical monitoring allows you to control the exact thicknesses extremely well."
The MSP sputtering tool is ideal for products such as edge filters, band-pass filters, and anti-reflection (AR) coatings. Jaunzens adds that the MSP is suitable for producing the transparent conductive oxides used in solar applications. "Cut on/off tolerances of better than 1% can be achieved economically for the first time in real mass-production applications," he claimed.
The second new product is a plasma source, which Evatec can retrofit to existing systems. "We find that a lot of customers would like to be able to produce higher quality coatings for new applications but can't afford to buy new tools," said Jaunzens. "We can fit our PDS source to an existing tool and upgrade its capability significantly."
• This week, Essilor, an expert manufacturer of ophthalmic optical products, has signed an agreement to purchase Satisloh. The acquisition is expected to go through by the end of 2008. Satisloh is a leading manufacturer of prescription laboratory equipment, such as anti-reflective coating machines, and reported revenues of €161 million in 2007. The company has more than 400 employees.
Jacqueline Hewett is editor of Optics & Laser Europe magazine.