Quartz Crystal Production - Plating
During plating, two thin film metal spots are deposited onto the opposing surfaces of the quartz blank. These films are known as the electrodes and will be used to stimulate the crystal into vibration. The process of vacuum deposition creates the electrode films. Essentially, a small amount of metal wire is heated with a current until a spray of atoms is produced. The metal spray proceeds through the vacuum produced inside the plating chamber until it reaches the surface of the quartz blank. This is precisely the same phenomenon that turns the inside surface of an incandescent bulb dark over its life.
A mask is used to control the size and shape of the electrode as the metal spray passes through it. The size and shape of the electrode is critically important to the equivalent electrical function of the resonator. In fact for a given crystal, the design of the quartz blank and the design of the electrode are inseparable.
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