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A typical planar inductively coupled plasma source was characterized by means of several diagnostic methods. Langmuir probe measurements as well as quantitative spectroscopic methods were used in order to determine electron density, mean electron energy, electron energy distribution functions, and the neutral particle temperature. A model based on hydrodynamic balance equations has been developed and used to predict parameters which cannot be determined by direct measurements. As the agreement of experimental and simulated data is excellent, the overall discharge efficiency, influences of substrate holder, fluxes as well as energies, and incident angle of ions on the substrate were determined. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.