Electron density, temperature and the potential structure of spokes in HiPIMS

Held, J. and Maaß, P.A. and Gathen, V.S.-V.D. and Keudell, A.V.

Volume: 29 Pages:
DOI: 10.1088/1361-6595/ab5e46
Published: 2020

In high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) bright plasma spots are observed during the discharge pulses that rotate with velocities in the order of 10 km s-1 in front of the target surface. It has proven very difficult to perform any quantitative measurements on these so-called spokes, which emerge stochastically during the build-up of each plasma pulse. In this paper, we propose a new time shift averaging method to perform measurements integrating over many discharge pulses, but without phase averaging of the spoke location, thus preserving the information of the spoke structure. This method is then applied to perform Langmuir probe measurements, employing magnetized probe theory to determine the plasma parameters inside the magnetic trap region of the discharge. Spokes are found to have a higher plasma density, electron temperature and plasma potential than the surrounding plasma. The electron density slowly rises at the leading edge of the spoke to a maximum value of about 1 1020 m-3 and then drops sharply at the trailing edge to 4 1019 m-3. The electron temperature rises from 2.1 eV outside the spoke to 3.4 eV at the trailing end of the spoke. A reversal of the plasma potential from about -7 V outside the spoke to values just above 0 V in a spoke is observed, as has been proposed in the literature. © 2020 IOP Publishing Ltd.

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