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Experimental observations of steady anodic vacuum arcs with thermionic cathodes

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1 Author(s)
Benstetter, Gunther ; Lehrstuhl fur Tech. Elektrophys., Tech. Univ. Munchen, Germany

Stationary plasma discharges have been investigated in a high vacuum ambient (background gas pressure <10-2 Pa), with an externally heated cathode and a consumable hot evaporating anode. With various anode materials like chromium or copper, and electrode separations between 0.5 and 3 mm, the nonself-sustained discharge operates with DC arc currents in the range of 220 A. The waveform of the arc voltage is strongly influenced by the magnetic field of the cathode heating current, and arc voltages between a minimum of 3 V and a maximum exceeding 100 V have been observed. The voltage-current characteristics (VCC) and the influence of the electrode separation have been measured separately for the minimum and the maximum of the arc voltages and show a different behavior. The metal plasma expands into the ambient vacuum toward the walls of the vacuum vessel and offers a macroparticle free deposition source of thin films. The arc voltage can be varied by external manipulations of the arc discharge, and the mean ion energy of the expanding metal plasma shows a linear dependence of the mean arc voltage

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Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:24 ,  Issue: 6 )