As a consequence of the ever increasing application field of modern optical technologies, new demands for the optimization of deposition processes for high quality optical coatings with increased environmental stability and power handling capability are imposed on thin film manufacturers. Starting from this challenge, the presented work is focused on the development of an ion assisted deposition (IAD) process using a cold cathode ion source. Especially in the mid
infrared wavelength region (MIR) with its water absorption bands, the ion assisted deposition process leads to many practical advantages, e.g. for medical laser applications.
In the present study, a cold cathode ion source was operated with pure oxygen for the deposition of different oxide materials. Besides the determination of the optical properties, the characterization of the thin films included the first application of an in situ optical broadband monitoring system during the IAD process.
The produced single layers and MIR coatings are thermally stable, shift-free, and exhibit lower absorption compared to conventionally deposited coatings. In contrast to the conventional coatings, also no vacuum-to-air shift is observed for the realized MIR coatings. Therefore, the stable and reproducible IAD process in combination with the new process control strategies using the broadband transmittance measurements on the moving substrates allows an advanced process control and a precise determination of the layer thickness.