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Plasma Parameters in a Pre-Ionized HiPIMS Discharge Operating at Low Pressure

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3 Author(s)
Phitsanu Poolcharuansin ; Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics, Liverpool University , Liverpool, U.K. ; Bernd Liebig ; James Bradley

A high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) discharge assisted by a dc pre-ionizer operating at low pressure has been investigated using the Langmuir probe technique as well as energy-resolved mass spectrometry. It was found that the background plasma with densities of about 1 × 109 cm-3 provided by the dc pre-ionizer can reduce the ignition delay time of the HiPIMS plasma from more than 50 μs to less than 5 μs at a working pressure of about 0.1 Pa. Furthermore, the technique of super-imposing HiPIMS with the dc discharge can be readily employed with a low self-sputtering yield target (Ti) at a working pressure of 0.08 Pa, with a pulse width and a repetition frequency of 100 μs and 100 Hz, respectively. This leads to a power density of 450 Won 2 at the target. At these operating conditions, the probe measurements showed a high-density plasma 6 cm in front of the target. The maximum electron density was found to be 8 × 1011 cm-3, with an effective electron temperature of about 3-4 eV. A study of the ion mass distribution revealed that the intensity of Ti2+ ions is larger than the peak of Ti+ in low-pressure operation. Moreover, the number of metal ions in the high-energy tail of the ion energy distribution function increased with a decreasing pressure from 0.5 to 0.08 Pa.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science  (Volume:38 ,  Issue: 11 )