19 September 2013 Moisture barrier and chemical corrosion protection of silver-based telescope mirrors using aluminum oxide films by plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition
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Abstract
An urgent demand remains in astronomy for high-reflectivity silver mirrors that can withstand years of exposure in observatory environments. The University of California Observatories Astronomical Coatings Lab has undertaken development of protected silver coatings suitable for telescope mirrors that maintain high reflectivity at wavelengths from 340 nm through the mid-infrared spectrum. We present initial results of an investigation into whether plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition (PEALD) can produce superior protective layers of transparent dielectrics. Several novel coating recipes have been developed with ion-assisted electron beam deposition (IAEBD) of materials including yttrium fluoride, and oxides of yttrium, hafnium, and titanium. Samples of these mirror coatings were covered with conformal layers of aluminum oxide (AlOx) deposited by PEALD using trimethylaluminum as a metal precursor and oxygen as an oxidant gas activated by remote plasma. Samples of coating recipes with and without PEALD oxide undergo aggressive environmental testing, including high temperature/high humidity (HTHH), in which samples were exposed to an environment of 80% humidity at 80°C for ten days in a simple test set-up. HTHH testing show visible results suggesting that the PEALD oxide offers enhanced robust protection against chemical corrosion and moisture from an accelerated aging environment. Mirror samples are further characterized by reflectivity/absorption and atomic force microscopy before and after deposition of oxide coatings. AlOx is suitable for many applications and has been the initial material choice for this study, although we also tried TiOx and HfOx. Further experimentation based on these initial results is on-going.
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David M. Fryauf, Andrew C. Phillips, Nobuhiko P. Kobayashi, "Moisture barrier and chemical corrosion protection of silver-based telescope mirrors using aluminum oxide films by plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition", Proc. SPIE 8820, Nanoepitaxy: Materials and Devices V, 88200Y (19 September 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2023826; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2023826
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