J. Vac. Sci. Technol. A 29(1) Jan/Feb 2011
Study of plasma dynamics in a modulated pulsed power magnetron discharge using a time-resolved Langmuir probe
L. Meng, A. N. Cloud, S. Jung and D. N. Ruzic
Modulated pulse power MPP technology is a derivative of high power pulsed magnetron sputtering that allows unprecedented user control over the growth process, although the critical time-dependent plasma properties during the power pulse have not been studied until now. Using a MPP plasma generator, pulses of custom voltage waveforms were generated and applied to the cathode of a 36 cm diameter circular planar magnetron. The I-V characteristics of the pulses are separable into distinct discharge stages. A time-resolved triple Langmuir probe was introduced to measure the temporal evolution of the plasma. Typical electron density of 51017 m−3 and electron temperature of 10 eV during the pulse were calculated from measured parameters. Plasma behaviors were observed to closely depend on the pulse waveforms. Various parameters, including pulse current, pulse frequency, pressure, and distance from the target, also affected the electron density and temperature, providing degrees of freedom to optimize the sputtering processes. The effects of each parameter on the pulsed plasma dynamics are discussed and then attributed to mechanisms of electron impact ionization, gas heating, and magnetic confinement.
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