Dictionary of Terms


The electrode in device out of which electrons flow out of and return to the circuit.


An electrical breakdown of gas which produces an ongoing plasma discharge resulting from a current flowing through normally nonconductive media such as air.

Baking the chamber

(250 °C-400 °C) removes water or hydrocarbons adsorbed to the walls.


The electrode at which electrons go into a cell, tube or diode.


Inorganic non-metallic materials.


The intensity of the applied magnetic field required to reduce the magnetization of that material to zero after the magnetization of the sample has been driven to saturation.

Compression Fittings

A fitting pressed against a pipe so tightly that no water may leak through.


Materials that contain movable charges of electricity.

Electron Density

The measure of the number of electrons being present in a given volume.


An external or internal rib or rim, used to add strength or to hold something in place.

Glow Discharge

A plasma formed by passing an electric current through a gas – usually argon.


Prevents the flow of electrical charges.


An atom with a net electric charge.

Lines of Force

The curve whose tangent gives the direction of the field at that point.

Magnetic Field

A physical phenomenon produced by both an electric current and/or the orbit and spin of electrons in an atom.

Magnetron Sputtering

Uses magnetic fields to confine plasma to the region closest to the target plate, maintaining a higher ion density and creating a higher electron/ion collision rate, thus increasing the sputter yield.


An element that readily forms ions and creates metallic bonds.

NdFeB Magnets

Made from a combination of neodymium, iron and boron and are 30% stronger than other rare-earth magnets.


A loop of elastomer with a round cross section used as a mechanical seal.


The slow release of a gas that was trapped, frozen or absorbed in some material.

Permanent magnet

A magnet that does not rely upon outside influences to generate their magnetic field.


A state of matter which contains an equal number of positive and negative charges.

Power density

The amount of power delivered by an energy source, divided by some measure of the source’s surface area.

Rare-earth magnet

A permanent magnet, stronger in magnitude than ferrite or ceramic magnets.

RF Shielding

The protection of sensitive electrical equipment from external radio frequency electromagnetic radiation by enclosing it in a conductive metal such as a wire mesh.

Short circuit

An accidental low-resistance connection between two nodes of an electrical circuit that are different voltages.


The vacuum process during which energized plasma ions strike a target composed of the desired coating materials and causes the atoms from that target to eject with enough energy to travel to and bond with a substrate to form a thin film.


The base material to be coated with a thin film.


The solid source of material to be deposited through a sputtering process.

Thin Film Deposition

Any technique used to deposit a thin film of material onto a substrate or previously deposited materials.

Thin Films

A layer of material.


A ridge running in a spiral down the length of a cylinder which turns rotation into linear movement.


A millimeter of mercury used as a unit of pressure.

Turbulent water flow

A flow regime characterized by chaotic property changes, including low momentum diffusion, high momentum convection, and rapid variation of pressure and velocity in space and time.


Requires the use of special materials, extreme cleanliness, and baking the entire system to remove water and other trace gases.


The proportion of a target used compared to its total resources.

Vacuum Chamber

A rigid enclosure from which air and other gases are removed by a vacuum pump.