Sputtering Targets and Sputtered Films: Technology and Markets

Published - Oct 2002| Analyst - Mindy Rittner| Code - SMC037B
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Report Highlights

  • The worldwide market for sputtering targets reached $871.5 million in 2001. Rising at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 15.4%, this market will approach $1.8 billion in 2006.
  • Sputter deposition accounted for 486.1 million square meters of thin films in 2001, a figure expected to exceed 1.0 billion square meters in 2006, rising at an AAGR of 16.5%.
  • The market totaled about 305.9 thousand targets in 2001 and is expected to reach 496.8 thousand units in 2006, a 10.2% AAGR. This represents 2,365.7 and 4,373.1 thousand kg of material, respectively.
  • Target consumption will rise at a slower rate than production of sputtered films primarily due to more efficient use of material, film thickness decreases in some market segments and a transition to larger target sizes in some segments.



This BCC market study was designed to serve as a comprehensive source of techno-economic information and market analyses on the topic of sputtering targets and sputtered films. The major objectives of this study were to:


  • Describe conventional and emerging methods of fabricating sputtering targets;
  • Describe traditional and advanced sputtering techniques and competing deposition technologies;
  • report_highlights new technological developments by major industry participants;
  • Identify technical issues and problems facing producers of targets and films;
  • Determine trends in U.S. patents issued during the past decade and identify domestic and foreign leaders in technology innovation;
  • Identify and characterize major and minor target suppliers and their products;
  • Identify the major market segments for sputtering targets and sputtered films;
  • Elucidate the thin film structure, in terms of numbers of layers, materials and dimensions, of each type of thin film device or coated product;
  • Describe the physical and microstructural requirements of sputtering targets and sputtered films as a function of application;
  • Identify important technology and market trends in each market segment;
  • Estimate current worldwide markets for sputtering targets and sputtered films and forecast target and film consumption through 2006.



While serving as critical raw materials for the fabrication of a variety of highly engineered thin film products¾from integrated circuits to window coatings¾sputtering targets are themselves high value-added advanced materials. Various aspects of the microstructure of a sputtering target must be optimized to maximize sputtering performance and yield a high quality deposited film.

Not surprisingly, trends in sputtering target materials and sputter process technology reflect the evolving needs of the thin film industry. And thin film products and devices are indeed undergoing change. Integrated circuit manufacturers are reacting to the emergence of copper films as a low resistivity alternative to sputtered aluminum interconnects. A variety of thin film display devices are competing in the flat panel display market to displace the bulky cathode ray tubes (CRTs) of desktop computers and televisions. In the data storage industry, the areal densities of magnetic hard disks continue to increase and new optical disk formats are emerging. Consumer awareness of the cost savings associated with energy efficiency is driving new developments in wavelength-selective coatings for windows.

The impact of these and other changes on the technology and markets for sputtering targets and sputtered films are explored in this study. In some cases, complex alloy or compound sputtering targets are being developed to satisfy requirements for exotic new thin film materials. In other cases, target microstructures and morphologies are being refined and optimized to improve the efficiency of the deposition process. In still other cases, the role of sputtering is being expanded or called into question. For certain applications sputtering technology stacks up well against competing deposition techniques; for others, the thin film requirements are moving beyond the capabilities of sputter deposition technology.


The importance of this study lies in its comprehensive yet focused scope and its uniqueness. This document is an update of the first and only published report to evaluate the global market for sputtering targets and sputtered films. Additionally, this document identifies the primary technological requirements of targets and films in each market segment and explores in detail the sputtering industry¾from raw material suppliers through end-users¾in every major thin film application area.

This report is a valuable resource for individuals in companies that:


  • Manufacture, process and/or resell sputtering targets;
  • Fabricate thin film devices or coated products;
  • Offer sputter deposition and coating services to the thin film industry;
  • Supply raw materials to manufacturers of sputtering targets;
  • Manufacture processing and characterization equipment (e.g., compaction presses, induction meters, analytical instruments) utilized by sputtering target manufacturers;
  • Produce sputtering systems or related equipment utilized by thin film producers;
  • Provide technical and/or marketing services to the thin film industry;
  • Are planning to enter the sputtering industry as a supplier, manufacturer or end user.



Covered in this report are sputtering targets and sputtered films used for high technology applications in the advanced display, glass coating, magnetic and optical storage, and microelectronics industries. The sputtering targets consumed in these markets serve as value-added raw materials for the manufacture of a wide range of thin film products¾from computer chips to compact discs to wavelength-selective coatings on window glass. The gamut of thin films and sputtering targets used in these market segments is considered in this report.

Sputtering is used also in some cases to deposit decorative and hard coatings for products such as costume jewelry and plumbing hardware; however, other deposition techniques, including electroplating, ion plating, arc evaporation and others, are far more widely employed. Also, generally speaking, the film and target requirements of these coating applications are considerably less stringent than those of the semiconductor, data storage, advanced display, and glass coatings markets. Thus, this application area is not covered in this study.


The data in this report were obtained from both primary and secondary sources. Dozens of industry participants-including executives, managers, engineers, and salespeople-were interviewed in the course of this study to obtain technical information, viewpoints about industry issues, and opinions about market data and trends. Among the individuals contacted were representatives from domestic and foreign target manufacturing and supply firms, target end users (i.e., producers of thin film products or devices and coating service providers), deposition equipment manufacturers and industry experts from the thin film community.

Additionally, a thorough search of relevant technical and trade literature was conducted, including several years of conference proceedings from the American Vacuum Society and the U.S. Patent Bibliographic Database from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Also useful were company product brochures, annual reports, and other literature.


Mindy N. Rittner, Ph.D., the author of this report, has a broad base of experience in technical-market research and experimental materials processing. Rittner follows growing segments of the materials industry, including nanostructured materials, metal matrix composites, and powder metallurgy. She is the founder and editor of BCC's monthly newsletter, Nanoparticle News, and co-chair of BCC's annual Nanoparticles conference. Rittner earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Materials Science at Northwestern University.

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