There are essentially three different ways to sputter material onto a substrate. One is called Direct Current (DC) Sputtering, the second is called Radio Frequency (RF) Sputtering, and the third is referred to as Reactive Sputtering.
Sputtering is an arc process where there is a thin film that is deposited by etching a material from a source onto a substrate. The sputtered atoms are ejected from a target. It is often referred to as thin-film deposition. This process is used extensively in the manufacture of both active and passive electronic components.
Direct Current (DC) Sputtering is the simplest sputtering process. It cannot be used to deposit dielectric or inorganic materials like oxides, but it can be used to deposit almost any metallic material.
Radio Frequency (RF) Sputtering is more adaptable than DC Sputtering. It is not limited to electrically conductive targets like DC Sputtering. It can use targets such as silicon oxides and polymers.
These sputtering processes are commonly used to manufacture thin film resistors and rod resistors.Both of these resistors operate at the RF to microwave frequencies.
The Reactive Sputtering is the most complex of the three processes and is where a reactive gas is used along with inert argon to form a plasma. The reactive gas becomes activated and chemically combines with target atoms to form a compound. Two widely used reactive gases are oxygen and nitrogen. This process is used widely for the deposition of dielectrics, resistors, and semiconductors.