Sputtering equipment for daguerreotype photography

Manufacture of photographic materials using home-made sputtering equipment.

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Nineteenth-century daguerreotypists used copper and silver clad plates.
However, in the 21st century, that technology has almost disappeared, and with a few exceptions, only electroplated silver plates can be used inexpensively by amateurs like me.
Electroplating requires the presence of cyanide compounds, which can adversely affect daguerreotype images.
I'm trying to see if I can get a clean plate for the daguerreotype by sputtering a thin layer of silver.

I'm looking for a collaboration on vacuum equipment that can be introduced into a typical home.
On the other hand, I can advise on the power supply configuration necessary for plasma generation in the vacuum chamber.

1. The vacuum chamber consists of a heat-resistant glass Tupperware with a plate holder, a copper-tungsten electrode, and an exhaust port on the base of a 250x250x5 A7075 plate with an O-ring groove.
2. Prepare the plasma conditions by evacuating the chamber with a rotary vane vacuum pump through an oil mist trap, filling with argon gas, and evacuating repeatedly.
3. Boost AC50V to AC1500V with a step-up transformer for microwave ovens, convert it to DC with a diode bridge and apply it to the chamber to create a plasma atmosphere inside the chamber.
4. Inside the chamber, place a silver target on the base plate as the anode, and the electrode in the glass chamber as the cathode.
A 120x90x0.8mm copper plate is attached to the plate holder at a distance of 15-20mm from the anode.
5. Magnetron sputtering is started by inserting a magnetron consisting of OD34xID24xt10 doughnut-shaped and OD18xt10 cylindrical-shaped magnets directly under the base plate.
6. Since the above magnetron cannot cover the entire copper plate, the magnetron is driven in a grid pattern by a CNC modified from a pen plotter to proceed with sputtering. (See uploaded video)
7. All of these cooling rely on fan air cooling. :-P


Actual sputtering and CNC control software.

MPEG-4 Video - 45.10 MB - 08/15/2022 at 05:13


  • New vacuum chamber progress

    Koji Tokura08/22/2022 at 10:38 0 comments

    Today's progress.
    I drilled a Φ18 hole in the SUS tray and attached an gas supply/exhaust fitting.

    It just like designed. ;)

  • New chamber design

    Koji Tokura08/21/2022 at 12:11 0 comments

    I've finished arranging the parts for the new chamber, and some items have arrived, so I tried to make a rough model.
    The 2mm thick base plate and deep tray, the M6 legs are SUS304 (stainless steel), silicon rubber packing and 5mm heat resistant glass are on top.
    Brass parts are vacuum exhaust and argon gas supply port.
    The point here is the small circle visible in the center of the bottom of the tray.
    Spot weld to the base plate only at this point.
    The actual thickness of the tray is 0.7mm, so it is expected that the bottom will dent when vacuumed. The motive is to disperse the base plate and deformation stress with this spot welding and endure it.
    The flat part of the bottom is roughly 177 x 116 mm, so I wonder if 2 mm of SUS304 will work. (You calculate the strength lol).
    The concern is whether the 5mm thick heat-resistant glass will hold up. That being said, I don't want to use quartz glass. . . Please don't break it (You calculate the strength lol).

  • New chamber parts

    Koji Tokura08/20/2022 at 08:12 0 comments

    I am considering a vacuum chamber in a new configuration.

  • Foreline trap issue

    Koji Tokura08/17/2022 at 05:53 0 comments

    I'm currently struggling with a foreline trap on a rotary vane pump.
    Since I have not received any formal education about vacuum equipment, it did not come to my mind at first that oil mist would diffuse backwards into the vacuum chamber.
    After many failures, I realized this by observing the phenomenon, and tried to make my own foreline trap using activated carbon or silica gel, but the plasma quality deteriorated due to the pressure loss.
    Currently, I use a trap with a general paper filter, and although I'm getting some improvement, it's still not good enough.

    Professional equipment seems to use liquid nitrogen to chill the upstream of the pump to trap the mist, but it is impossible to introduce such a device at home.
    This part will be an important theme in the future improvement of the device.

  • Cameras I use to shoot daguerreotypes

    Koji Tokura08/16/2022 at 15:54 0 comments

    Hey, you probably don't know what kind of camera I expose a 90x120mm plate.
    This is the pretty cameras that I usually use.
    The first black one is a Voigtlander Bergheil from the 1920s.
    The next is a pre-WW2 Japanese wooden camera.
    Taking slow shots with these cameras, like 5 minute shutter speeds, feels great.

  • New chambers!

    Koji Tokura08/15/2022 at 14:01 0 comments

    A damaged chamber and two brand new chambers.
    When I asked my wife, "Buy me one because it broke," an extra one grew.
    I feel her love (or resignation).

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tormozedison wrote 08/18/2022 at 18:25 point

Do daguerreotypes really need mercury to be developed? How can this be avoided by using something else instead?

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Koji Tokura wrote 08/19/2022 at 00:53 point

Thank you for your interest in the daguerreotype and this project.

I also do vacuum normal temperature mercury development, but mercury is certainly dangerous.
There is a development technique called the Becquerel method, which is simply sunbathing.
Thus, in the Becquerel method, the most toxic chemical involved in daguerreotype making is iodine, which, with general precautions, is not harmful to health.

Most of the Becquerel method is documented here, but feel free to ask me if you have any practical questions.

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Koji Tokura wrote 08/19/2022 at 00:58 point

PS: The daguerreotype shown in my gallery was developed with the Becquerel method.

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