The Cressington company was originally formed in 1973 to offer a product design service in the field of high vacuum coating. In 1977 the company commenced manufacturing and marketing a range of products.
These early coating products were designed to deposit ultra-thin layers for sample preparation in transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The compact electron beam (EB) evaporation sources, ultra-stable EB power supplies and modular freeze-etch accessory were intended primarily for use in molecular biology research. They also found applications in the development of foods and paints.
When Cressington moved on from modular accessories to manufacturing complete equipment it was in the field of freeze-etch. The first complete freeze-etch system (a CFE-40) was delivered to Northwestern University in Evanston, Il in 1986. This unit was recently relocated to Northeastern University in Boston, MA where it is still in use.
In 1991 Cressington moved into the wider market of coating for scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with the introduction of the desktop "108" series of coaters. These efficient low vacuum sputter coaters and carbon evaporators proved extremely popular. They have been improved and developed over time and still sell in large numbers.
The introduction of the Cressington 108 coater range highlighted the need for an accurate and inexpensive film thickness monitor. This requirement was met successfully by the development of the MTM-10. More than 30% of Cressington's desktop low vacuum coaters are supplied with a thickness monitor.
In 1993 the desktop coater range was expanded to include a high vacuum sputter coater (208HR) and a high vacuum carbon evaporator (208C). With the increased use of high resolution FE-SEM the market for these coaters is still growing. The 208HR is regarded as the industry standard for FE-SEM sputter coating.
1999 saw the introduction of a new coater with the popular 12" chamber size (308R). The highly adaptable format of the 308R immediately found applications in advanced sample preparation for FE-SEM and TEM and in many areas of thin film R & D. This coater is unusual in being able to combine sputtering and high vacuum evaporation in a single vacuum cycle. The range of accessories and chamber formats for the 308R is the subject of ongoing development.
Cressington currently offers a wide selection of desktop coaters. Sputter coaters range from simple low vacuum gold coaters for SEM to complex high vacuum multi-head sputter coaters for R & D. Evaporators range from low vacuum carbon coaters to multi-material coaters with mixed EB and resistive sources. Although the freeze-etch technique is no longer in widespread use, it can still offer significant advantages to specialist researchers, and the current desktop model is still available on special request.
Cressington is committed to a continuous research and product development program to improve the performance of the coating range. The latest 308R offers a combination of turbo-pumping and cryo-pumping to give an ultimate pressure in the high 10-8mb range. Initial tests show that this ultra-clean and ultra-dry vacuum environment gives significant benefits in the properties of sputtered layers.