PVD Blog

What the duck?


If you look carefully at any of our equipment photos, you will find a small rubber ducky placed somewhere on the deposition tool.

These ducks have become PVD's informal mascot, and we include one of our ducks with every deposition system that we ship. We often tell clients that the machine is free, but the duck costs $1,000,000! You may be wondering, what on earth do ducks have to do with thin-film deposition equipment?

Well that’s a funny story.

Flashback back to 1997

We had finished building our fledgling commercial PLD-3000 system for our very first client, the National Research Council of Canada. The customer was new to the pulsed laser deposition (PLD) process and was interested in both on-axis and off-axis PLD. To provide on- and off-axis orientation with respect to the laser plume, the system needed to be capable of repositioning the heater body and the wafer holder.

When we completed the machine, the customer came in for an acceptance test. In the morning, we ran the system with the heater in the on-axis position and everything ran fine. Then we were asked to demonstrate the off-axis mode of the system. That's where things went wrong.

From test to mess

Repositioning the heater required disconnecting some VCR® fittings used for water-cooling the high-temperature heater body. While reconnecting the VCR lines, one of us forgot to tighten down the fittings. When we turned on the roughing pump to evacuate the deposition chamber, the vacuum started sucking water into the chamber from the water line. The pump started to make a strange noise and the main viewport fogged over. We shut the pump off and opened the chamber door. About two gallons of water came flowing out onto the floor.

At this point our trusty sales manager took the client to lunch... then dinner.

In the late hours of clean up

Jim, Martin, and Les spent about 12 hours removing all of the chamber components, cleaning out the system, and drying all of the critical components in a toaster oven. We worked late into the night, and sleep deprivation kicked in. Les started singing Ernie's "Rubber Ducky" song from Sesame Street, and soon everybody was in on it.

The next morning

Following this incident, a rubber ducky mysteriously appeared on the now-rebuilt PLD chamber. The base pressure was 2 x 10-7 Torr, and final tests continued successfully. The customer was very pleased and asked for the duck to be shipped with the system. Since then, adding a rubber ducky has become our signature that a system has successfully passed through all stages of quality control and is ready to ship. It's PVD’s seal of approval. Except it's a duck. It's our "duck of approval."

Our team at PVD Prducts is the best of the best for standard and custom thin film deposition systems, helping to get your ducks in a row every phase of your project. To learn more about our deposition systems and customization options, download the eBook, "Choosing a Thin Film Deposition System."

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Topics: System Planning, Company News

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