Electron dynamics in low pressure capacitively coupled radio frequency discharges

Wilczek, S. and Schulze, J. and Brinkmann, R.P. and Donkó, Z. and Trieschmann, J. and Mussenbrock, T.

Volume: 127 Pages:
DOI: 10.1063/5.0003114
Published: 2020

In low temperature plasmas, the interaction of the electrons with the electric field is an important current research topic that is relevant for many applications. Particularly, in the low pressure regime (≤ 10 Pa), electrons can traverse a distance that may be comparable to the reactor dimensions without any collisions. This causes "nonlocal,"dynamics which results in a complicated space- and time-dependence and a strong anisotropy of the distribution function. Capacitively coupled radio frequency (CCRF) discharges, which operate in this regime, exhibit extremely complex electron dynamics. This is because the electrons interact with the space- and time-dependent electric field, which arises in the plasma boundary sheaths and oscillates at the applied radio frequency. In this tutorial paper, the fundamental physics of electron dynamics in a low pressure electropositive argon discharge is investigated by means of particle-in-cell/Monte Carlo collisions simulations. The interplay between the fundamental plasma parameters (densities, fields, currents, and temperatures) is explained by analysis (aided by animations) with respect to the spatial and temporal dynamics. Finally, the rendered picture provides an overview of how electrons gain and lose their energy in CCRF discharges. © 2020 Author(s).

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