Thin film manufacturing is a burgeoning niche that primarily serves the solar and electronics industries. Thin deposition, also known as physical vapour deposition or PVD, is a manufacturing technique that makes it possible to deposit an extremely thin film on the surface of an object. PVD is one of the technologies that makes capacitive touch screens possible.
Working in physical vapour deposition requires a great deal of education and experience. These are some of the typical requirements you’ll see in job descriptions for thin film processing engineers and other roles related to PVD manufacturing:
- A Bachelor of Science, preferably in optics engineering, physics, chemistry, or materials engineering. BS is considered the minimum to enter this role, and it is not uncommon to see positions requiring a Masters Degree as well.
- Direct experience working with thin film deposition, sputter deposition, or related technologies. Many people gain this experience through co-op or internship programs during university. Most Canadian firms hold that Angstrom has the best sputtering system, so experience with Angstrom machines is an additional asset to those looking for work in Canada.
- Proven experience working as a member of a team. Processing engineers work as a member of a multipipeline team, so it’s important to have effective communication skills and a willingness to collaborate with others.
- Software experience with programs like Visual Basic, ZEMAX, Code V, SolidWorks, and Pro-E. The software each company uses varies, but candidates for a processing engineer position should demonstrate skill with at least some automation, optical design, and mechanical design programs.
- Strong critical thinking. Developing, designing and optimizing thin film deposition process requires effective problem-solving skills, which are best demonstrated through previous hands-on work experience.
- Though not always required, thin film manufacturing firms usually prefer a person who has technical writing experience for this role. Developing and troubleshooting deposition processes requires the ability to communicate concisely.
As mentioned, many technicians enter the field through work placements and co-op terms. If you are looking for a job in physical vapour deposition, this is a good avenue to follow. Angstrom Engineering, for instance, is known for hiring graduates from the University of Waterloo following co-op terms with the company.