Part of the Oxford Instruments Group

Ion Beam Etching & Milling (IBE)

Ion Beam Etching (or milling) is achieved by directing a beam of charged particles (ions) at a substrate with a suitably patterned mask in a high vacuum chamber. It enables highly-directional beams of neutral ions to control over the sidewall profile as well as radial uniformity optimisation and feature shaping during nanopatterning. Tilted features can be created by the unique ability to tilt the sample altering the direction of impact of the ion beam. Ion beam etching can be applied in two ways: using inert ions for a physical etching or milling process, or using RIBE for reactive ion species to increase material etching with a chemical/reactive component.

Diagram showing ion beam etching ibe technology with Ar, Cl2, CF4 and CHF3


  • Allows beam energy and ion flux to be independently controlled
  • Process takes place in a low pressure working environment
  • Produces anisotropic etching
  • Provides means for all known materials to be etched
  • Allows angled profile control thanks to a variable etch beam angle relative to sample/mask surface
  • RIBE enables higher etching rates and higher selectivity etching of various materials through reactive species eg. Indium Phosphide (InP) etching with chlorine
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Key Benefits

  • Flexible configuration for advanced research applications
  • Unmatched uniformity and process reproducibility for production applications
  • Flexible wafer handling capability – single wafer load lock or cassette-to-cassette robotic handler
  • Accurate end point detection options – SIMS or OES
  • Substrate holder allows:
    • 0 – 20 RPM on-axis rotation
    • 5 – 300°C fluid-cooled or heated
    • He backside gas for efficient heat transfer from/to substrate

Etch ion source features

  • 15cm or 30cm RF Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) ion source, allowing use of reactive gases and low maintenance
  • Three grid assemblies for greater collimation/control of ion beam profile and low maintenance
  • Grid designs/materials tailored to specific etching requirements
  • Filamentless DC plasma bridge neutraliser (PBN) for low maintenance and use in reactive gas environments
Ionfab 300 
Ion Etching Source 150mm or 300mm for up to 4" and 8" respectively
Etching Area Up to 200mm diameter or 150mm square
Platen Speed Up to 20rpm
Platen Tilt Angle 65º to 90º relative to beam direction
Platen Heat Embedded heaters up to 300ºC with PID control
Platen Cooling Fluid coolant 5ºC to 60ºC with He backside (up to 50Torr) for substrate cooling/heating
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Ion Beam Etching Systems