Operation regimes, plasma parameters, and applications of the low-frequency ( - 500 kHz) inductively coupled plasma (ICP) sources with a planar external coil are investigated. It is shown that highly uniform, high-density (ne -9×1012 cm−3) plasmas can be produced in low-pressure argon discharges with moderate rf powers. The low-frequency ICP sources operate in either electrostatic (E) or electromagnetic (H) regimes in a wide pressure range without any Faraday shield or an external multipolar magnetic confinement, and exhibit high power transfer efficiency, and low circuit loss. In the H mode, the ICP features high level of uniformity over large processing areas and volumes, low electron temperatures, and plasma potentials. The low-density, highly uniform over the cross-section, plasmas with high electron temperatures and plasma and sheath potentials are characteristic to the electrostatic regime. Both operation regimes offer great potential for various plasma processing applications. As examples, the efficiency of the low-frequency ICP for steel nitriding and plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition of hydrogenated diamond-like carbon (DLC) films, is demonstrated. It appears possible to achieve very high nitriding rates and dramatically increase micro-hardness and wear resistance of the AISI 304 stainless steel. It is also shown that the deposition rates and mechanical properties of the DLC films can be efficiently controlled by selecting the discharge operating regime
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