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Discharge mode transitions in low-frequency inductively coupled plasmas with internal oscillating current sheets

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4 Author(s)
Tsakadze, Z.L. ; Plasma Sources and Applications Center, NIE, Nanyang Technological University, 1 Nanyang Walk, 637616 Singapore ; Ostrikov, K. ; Tsakadze, E.L. ; Xu, S.

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Transitions between the two discharge modes in a low-frequency (∼460 kHz) inductively coupled plasma sustained by an internal oscillating radio frequency (rf) current sheet are studied. The unidirectional rf current sheet is generated by an internal antenna comprising two orthogonal sets of synphased rf currents driven in alternately reconnected copper litz wires. It is shown that in the low-to-intermediate pressure range the plasma source can be operated in the electrostatic (E) and electromagnetic (H) discharge modes. The brightness of the E-mode argon plasma glow is found remarkably higher than in inductively coupled plasmas with external flat spiral “pancake” coils. The cyclic variations of the input rf power result in pronounced hysteretic variations of the optical emission intensity and main circuit parameters of the plasma source. Under certain conditions, it appears possible to achieve a spontaneous E→H transition (“self-transition”). The observed phenomenon can be attributed to the thermal drift of the plasma parameters due to the overheating of the working gas. The discharge destabilizing factors due to the gas heating and step-wise ionization are also discussed.

Published in:

Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces, and Films  (Volume:23 ,  Issue: 3 )