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Influence of steering magnetic field on the time-resolved plasma chemistry in cathodic arc discharges

By A. P. Ehiasarian, P. E. Hovsepian, R. New and J. Valter


External magnetic fields are used extensively to steer the cathode spot of arc discharges in order to improve target utilization and minimize droplet generation. Optical emission spectroscopy (OES) and electrostatic probe measurements in a Cr arc discharge were used to characterize the effect of the external magnetic field on the ion flux to the substrates and on the composition and time evolution of the plasma. A combination of a permanent magnet array and an electromagnetic coil was used to vary the shape and strength of the magnetic field on the cathode surface. Finite element modelling of the magnetic field distribution identified two types of geometry-through-field, with lines normal to the cathode surface, and arched-field, with lines forming a magnetic 'tunnel'. The magnetic flux densities measured with a Hall probe were in the range from -15 to +15 mT. The particular shape and strength of the magnetic field determined the specific confinement regions and diffusion pathways for the plasma. The total ion saturation current density at the substrate position was in the range between 2 and 11.5 mA cm(-2) depending on the magnetic field shape. The magnetic field strongly influenced the relative optical emission from Cr-0, Cr1+ and Cr2+ metal species, and the resulting charge state distribution. Time-resolved OES and probe measurements of a particular position on the arc cathode revealed that an Ar plasma is trapped near the cathode and is sustained even when the cathode spot is a significant distance from the observation volume. The importance of this 'residual' Ar plasma for the charge state distribution of metal ions is discussed

Publisher: Institute of Physics
Year: 2004
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