A theoretical and experimental investigation of the heat transfer processes encountered in sputtering and backsputtering systems have led to a method of cooling which does not involve clamping a wafer or substrate to a liquid cooled holder. The basic philosophy of the new method is to take full advantage of radiative cooling of the wafer by: (a) designing the holder so that the wafer has an unobstructed view of the water-cooled bell jar and is thermally isolated from the holder; (b) increasing the emittance of the side of the wafer facing the bell jar by the application of a black body coating. In addition to the above two modes, it is shown that tilting the wafer from a horizontal plane up to 45 °, although introduced primarily to reduce step problems, results in a decreased heating rate and subsequent lower wafer temperatures. Whether one would use one, two, or all three modes depends upon the heating rate (sputtering or backsputtering level), and the maximum temperature the wafer could stand without device damage. For example, if one does not wish to exceed 250 °C in a backsputtered silicon wafer, and at the same time it is desired to maximize the backsputtering rate, then, by employing a properly designed holder, tilted at 45 ° with the top side of the silicon of a black body, one could backsputter at a level corresponding to a heating rate of 0.6 W∕ cm2. This corresponds, conservatively, to a removal rate of gold of 2500 Å∕min. Design curves are presented which permit the prediction of steady state silicon wafer temperatures as a function of heat rate and silicon top side emittance. These theoretical predictions are corroborated by experiments. This study indicates that much of the present sputtering and backsputtering of silicon wafers can be accomplished without clamping the wafer to a liquid-cooled holder.